Family Volunteering

Do all you can with what you have, in the time you have, in the place you are.
—Nkosi Johnson, a Zulu boy, born into dire poverty and infected with AIDS, who died at the age of 12.

National Family Volunteer Day is an annual observance that occurs the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This year it is on November 18. Volunteering together will strengthen your family bonds as well as your community. Now more than ever, help from all kinds of people of all ages is needed right here at home as well as across the world. Working together can be a chance for you and your children to connect, and at the same time make a positive difference. Your kids will experience how good it feels to lend a hand, and they might learn something new in the process. Volunteering can be particularly memorable when you spend time afterwards talking about and reflecting on what happened. You can volunteer on your own or through an organization (congregations are especially good resources for finding out about opportunities). Listed below are some ongoing family project ideas. For more information and suggestions see www.1800volunteer.org.

Tips for . . .

  • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Coordinate a food drive and deliver the goods together.
    • Treat an elderly friend, relative, or neighbor to lunch. Go to a restaurant, bring a picnic, or order take-out.
    • Make and send cards to hospitalized children, nursing home residents, or people in the military.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Provide foster care for a pet through an animal shelter or for a friend or neighbor who is out of town or ill.
    • Organize a community or neighborhood “closet-cleaning day.” Deliver everything you collect to a shelter or thrift store.
    • Help a newly arrived immigrant family celebrate their “First Thanksgiving” by donating food, kitchen supplies, winter clothes, and other items.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Participate in cleaning up a park or natural area.
    • Become a “mentor family” to a young person through a mentoring organization.
    • Volunteer at a library to lead a story hour for kids. Or start an informal story hour in your home.
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Volunteer with a local organization that helps adults learn to read.
    • Help build a home in your community or another state.
  • Organize or participate together in a fundraiser such as a walk or run. Donate the proceeds to hurricane relief, camp scholarships, or other causes.

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