As we head into the holiday season, many people are looking for volunteer opportunities for kids. And with good reason! Not only is supporting your community important, but studies have shown children who get involved in service at a young age are more likely to stay civically engaged as they grow.
Additionally, Points of Light’s civic engagement research has shown that 40% of people want to engage, but say they don’t know what to do that would be helpful.
Family Volunteer Day is Nov. 19, and it’s the perfect time to get your family and friends involved. Here are five tips that can make it feel special and successful for everyone.
Listen and learn from the community you want to work with. No matter what cause you’re supporting, someone is being affected by it. Be sure to really listen and understand the needs of this community, so your project supports what they need. Sometimes, when we assume we know what’s needed without asking, it can miss the mark and actually create a hurdle for others.
Partner with a local nonprofit. Don’t feel like you need to start from scratch! Contact local organizations to see what’s already being done, or what you can do to support them. There may be animal shelters that need donations or community centers that need fall clean up – all things that can make an impact and get kids involved.
Foster empathy by discussing why the project is being done. Young children often do volunteer projects because they’re told. Take time at the beginning of a project to discuss why you’re doing the project, what the challenge being faced is, and how you’re making an impact. Allow kids to ask questions and be curious. Let them share ideas and feelings on the work.
Make sure there’s projects for different age levels and abilities. With varying ages and abilities, make sure you have lots of options for participation. Points of Light’s DIY Toolkits offer lots of ideas that can make the day fun for everyone. From hands on projects to collection drives and more, there are plenty of options that make sure everyone feels like they’ve participated fully.
Remind families to continue their engagement. Though volunteering is central to Family Volunteer Day, think about other ways families can stay engaged throughout the year. Points of Light’s Civic Circle provides nine ways people can accelerate change for causes they care about. Whether it’s through using their voice to educate others, using their purchase power during holiday shopping, or by continuing to volunteer, there are ways to be involved all year long.