This post was written by a guest contributor.
Parenting media outlets can’t stress enough how important it is to introduce the concept of philanthropy to your kids. By letting them contribute to their community, you’ll bring out all of their best qualities: empathy, compassion, generosity, and selflessness.
One of the first instincts for parents when it comes to family community service is to take them to a soup kitchen to help out the homeless. But Joel Berg, executive director of the NYC Coalition Against Hunger says that having children around tends to slow everything down. A soup kitchen volunteer will be surrounded by hot pans and knives and is required to move around heavy boxes, all of which are extremely dangerous for kids. He also adds, “The time it would take to instruct them is more than it would take for an adult.”
Instead of soup kitchens, here are opportunities for volunteers that are fun and fulfilling for the entire family:
Visit an animal shelter
This is probably going to be one of the most enjoyable experiences for your kids, so an animal shelter is an excellent place to start if your family has never volunteered before. Here your children can learn that homelessness doesn’t only apply to humans and it can help to emphasize the need to take good care of animals that need it the most. The more your kids play with them, the more sociable they become, which is a major factor when it comes to adoption. Pet News and Reviews lists more ways that children can assist animal shelters.
Take them to a retirement home
Sometimes parents worry that bringing kids to a retirement or nursing home could be disruptive. While there is always that possibility, the residents could always use a little more energy around the home. Your children interacting with them can lift their spirits and keep them sociable. If you still have concerns, Culpepper Place offers handy tips that will make the entire experience run more smoothly.
Read to children in an orphanage
One way for your children to see the struggles that at-risk kids have to endure daily is by taking them to an orphanage. Let your kids read to them and play with them to give them an understanding of the challenges they face. Having your children work with these orphans could lead them to later on explore more volunteer opportunities with underprivileged kids and possibly even sponsor an orphaned child when they become adults.