Make a Difference: Volunteer Together

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

Do you want to make a difference in your community? Volunteer! Research reveals that both kids and adults benefit from volunteering:

  • Family members become closer when they spend quality family time serving others.
  • Families communicate better when they’re volunteering.
  • Family members become role models to each other, to those they serve, and to those who have never served.
  • Families can make significant contributions by serving others.
  • When kids volunteer with their families, they’re more likely to become lifelong volunteers.
  • Kids are more likely to see the value of service when they do it with their families compared to when they serve others only with their peers.
  • Serving others builds Developmental Assets in young people. Asset #9 is Service to Others. Volunteering not only builds that asset but many more since volunteering provides a key way to support young people, empower them, provides clear boundaries and expectations, gives a constructive way to spend time, promotes a commitment to learning, instills positive values, builds social competencies, and promotes a strong sense of identity.
  • Learn more about Developmental Assets >

    Ideas for getting started:

  • Send a thinking-of-you card to someone who is sick or elderly.
  • Pay a visit to a sick or elderly person who may enjoy your company.
  • Bake brownies for someone as a "thinking of you" gesture.
  • Make homemade granola for an out-of-state family member. I suggest the recipe below ; )
  • Send a care package to college students during mid terms and final exams.
  • Send a care package to a soldier. Check out for more information.
  • Check out the organization, Feed My Starving Children, and volunteer to pack life-giving meals for hungry children. Learn more >
  • Do yard work for the elderly or disabled.
  • Connect with a local church or your child's school to discover volunteer opportunities.
  • The organization Doing Good Together focuses on ways that families can volunteer together. Be sure to sign up for their monthly e-mail newsletters which include one simple family volunteer activity that you can do at home with your family.

    I’ve discovered that when I volunteer with my kids, they become much more aware of the social issues around them. One of my kids has become an environmental activist. My other kid has become a humanitarian, promoting the equal rights of all people. I believe that doing family volunteer activities has shown them that they can make a difference because through these activities they do make a difference.

    Tell Us:----> How do you volunteer? Share a story, idea, or resource!

    _________________________________________________________________________ Sources:

    1. Jenny Friedman and Jolene Roehlkepartain, Doing Good Together: 101 Easy, Meaningful Service Projects for Families, Schools, and Communities (Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 2010).

    2. Serving Others, ParentFurther.

    3. Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, ParentFurther.

    Another GREAT article/resource! Readers may also be interested in, “Twenty Ways to Foster Values in Children.” See


    Volunteering has been part of my adult life and I now instill it in all the children I’m responsible for (nieces, nephews, godchildren). I found a great way to volunteer and have them see it in action. I now volunteer with Operation HOPE/Banking on Our Future ( It is a non-profit that teaches financial literacy at schools. It’s a great organization, I get to volunteer and the students learn about money with a real curriculum. The best part is I can tell the kids in my life to save money and that volunteering is important.

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