Children are curious about the world around them. It’s nearly impossible to satisfy that curiosity without addressing some real-world issues with your little ones.
Instead of shying away from the hardships in our world, we can start teaching our children early about what it means to give back to their community.
Doing good doesn’t just help those in need. Kids gain fulfillment, confidence, and values from the experience as well. In a world where community now means social media and sharing a video about a good cause is considered charitable, there’s still an opportunity to teach children to make real connections and find true meaning through good works.
Here are seven kid-friendly ways to give back.
1. Pick a Cause Close to Their Heart and Get Involved
What do your kids have the strongest opinions about? What sparks the biggest reaction for them? My boys both love animals with a passion. When my oldest son heard that there are animals without homes, he made it his mission to bring home every stray dog he found in the neighborhood. A better way to channel that passion was to get him involved with our local humane society.
Your child’s values may be still developing, so get creative in determining where they might fit. A sensitive kid who cares about everyone might be interested in connecting with a disaster relief organization that helps people in a time of crisis. Maybe your child just likes to play? Talk to your children about how there are kids right in their neighborhood who don’t have toys. If that sparks an interest, look into domestic shelters, for example, that accept toy donations. Organizations like Doing Good Together can help you find the need in your community and match it to your interests.
2. Make Care Packages for People in Your Community
In our own backyards, we have families with loved ones who are away serving in the military, children in the hospital, and others who could use a bit of love via snail mail. A care package is a simple yet powerful way to give back, because each package can be as personal as you’d like.
For someone in the hospital, there are some basic items that are sure to go over well. Snacks, cute and comfortable socks, books, magazines, and notebooks or coloring books are best to provide comfort and occupy the time spent in the hospital room. From there, let kids get creative based on the situation. Have your child include at least one personalized craft or encouraging note to the package recipient.
3. Assist an Elderly Next Door Neighbor
The most overlooked people in need are often right next door. Older kids can offer to help out senior citizens by completing common chores around the house. Taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, and walking or feeding the pets are tasks we take for granted that become increasingly difficult for people as they age.
Kids can find meaning in being there for another person while making a huge difference in the life of a neighbor. Younger kids can also be there for elderly neighbors with assistance from a parent. Young readers can practice their skills by reading a book to an elderly neighbor with a parent.
4. Raise Money With a Fun Event
Once your little one has a cause, it’s time to think outside of the box. Time is an invaluable resource and undoubtedly one of the best ways to get involved, but some nonprofit organizations need good old cash to stay afloat. Bake sales are a tried-and-true fundraising method, but there are many more types of events that can bring in the dough for a good cause.
Restaurants like Applebee’s offer fund-raisers where families can get to work in the kitchen flipping pancakes. Then, all proceeds go to your group or charity of choice. With a little planning and a donated space to host it, a family talent show can also bring in good money via ticket sales while giving families the chance to show off their hidden talents. A few other ideas include an art auction, a T-shirt fundraiser, and a game night — all hosted by your child with your help.
5. Start a Recycling Program
Organizing a recycling program in your community takes a little planning, but it’s one of the most fulfilling projects because the effects on the community and the environment are long-lasting. First, decide with your child what items you want to recycle. All types of things can be recycled: paper, plastic, batteries, glass, and aluminum. What is the need in your community? What does your local recycling plant accept? Next, help your child find a local business willing to host a recycling box in its location. School is also a good place to start.
From there, you and your child can check in on your recycling drop-off box regularly and drop off the items at your local recycling location. The Keep America Beautiful organization can help you locate recycling locations near you.
6. Help Feed the Hungry
According to Feeding America, one out of every six kids suffers from hunger. Food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens all rely on volunteers. Contact your local food bank to find volunteer activities that are age-appropriate for your child.
Many food banks have jobs, such as sorting produce and packing boxes, specifically for younger kids. Volunteering at a food bank is also one of the best ways to start talking to your kids about why some people are hungry and what we, as a community, can do to help.
7. Spread Love With Art and a Little Creativity
Kids love the opportunity to flex their creative muscles. Lots of organizations can benefit from your children’s crafts and artistic skills. Make and decorate children’s capes for the little superheroes in your local hospital.
- Cut your fabric into the size desired.
- Cut a yard-long piece of ribbon to fit (about 30 inches).
- Fold the top edge of the fabric down about 2 to 3 inches to create a hem.
- Place the ribbon inside the hem and glue it down with fabric glue.
Mom.com has some great ideas for charitable gift-giving if you’d like some more ideas!