Holiday Volunteer Opportunities Help Your Kids Catch the Spirit of Giving

Holidays are an exciting time for kids: singing festive songs, playing with visiting cousins, opening presents and indulging in yummy treats. By adding holiday volunteer opportunities to the list of family traditions, you can teach your young ones how to share their joy with others who are less fortunate.

Here are some tips for finding age-appropriate ways to get your children involved in holiday giving and community service.

How to Find a Giving Project

The simplest way to let your kids take part in holiday volunteer opportunities is to have them join existing projects that have opportunities for children and teens. Ask whether any of your local schools, faith organizations or charitable groups need young volunteers.

Search online for “holiday volunteering” plus the name of your city, town or county to see what’s available. VolunteerMatch has an advanced search function that lets you filter results to see matches appropriate for kids or teens. Another good resource is generationOn, run by the youth division of the Points of Light Foundation.

If you don’t find the perfect fit among existing volunteer projects in your community, consider creating your own. Encourage your children to think of ways they can help and which groups or organizations might welcome their assistance.

Ideas for Young Children

The following possibilities for young children may help get the brainstorming started.

  • Share food. Parents magazine suggests letting your little ones choose one item for a hungry family each time they accompany you on a grocery shopping trip. Once you’ve filled a bag with these items, they can help you present the donation to a local food pantry.
  • Give a toy. Toddlers and up can take part in selecting a donation to a toy drive. While they’re making up their own holiday wish lists, it might be a good time to nudge them to imagine something that a little girl or boy who has less might enjoy.
  • Create handmade greeting cards to deliver to a local senior center or to mail to service members overseas.
  • Bake cookies for first responders at your neighborhood station. Those too young to use the oven can help stir the batter and add the decorations.

Ideas for Teens

If your children are a bit older, see if one of these options appeals to them.

  • Assemble gift baskets. Your teenagers can probably handle the job of shopping for gifts, collecting donations and designing the baskets. Teens with a license and a responsible driving record can even help deliver the gift baskets.
  • Serve holiday meals to the elderly or to families in need.
  • Organize a winter coat drive, encouraging friends and family members to donate.

As Parents points out, when kids participate in volunteering, they learn about compassion, gratitude and community responsibility. Teaching them these lessons may be the most important holiday gift you could give them.

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