It is never too early to start teaching children that they can make a difference in the world. Volunteering with kids is a great way to help them learn to be kind, respectful of others, and responsible. But what if your children are too young for traditional volunteer work, or you don’t have the time or energy to take them somewhere to volunteer? There are many other ways that you can help your kids make a difference in the world, without adding one more scheduled activity to your week or trying to find ways for preschoolers to be helpful at a soup kitchen! Here are six great ideas to get you started.
1. You’ve probably heard inspirational stories about children who asked for donations to a charity, in lieu of birthday gifts, at their birthday party. The chances are, most kids won’t come up with the idea to do that on their own. But you can set an example by hosting a family party. Choose a charity that you want to help. Then, plan a party. It doesn’t have to be a birthday party… it can just be a fun backyard barbeque in the middle of the summer, or a karaoke and board game party on a winter Saturday afternoon. Ask that each guest bring a donation to the party. For instance, if you have chosen to help an animal rescue organization, guests can bring things like pet food, beds, toys, treats, or kitty litter. The day after the party, have your children come along to deliver all of the donations to the charity. They will get to see who they are helping, receive thank-you’s from the employees, etc. After they experience how good it feels to give, don’t be surprised if, later on, they come up with the idea to sell lemonade to raise money for the charity, or even ask their friends to bring donations instead of gifts at their next birthday party.
2. Do you love to do arts and crafts with your kids? Or do they churn out a lot of artwork at school? If you’re running out of room on your refrigerator, you can put all that art work to a good cause. Call a local nursing home and see if you can donate some of your children’s art work. It can be hung up in the rooms of residents who don’t have many family members or visitors, or put up on the walls of common areas to brighten things up.
3. Write letters or draw pictures to send to soldiers overseas. Your children can also help you pick out items to include in care packages for our troops. Check out websites like , , and , to learn how to get in touch with members of the military.
4. Sponsor a child! You’ve seen the commercials about starving children who need sponsorship. Chances are, your kids have seen them too. If your family sponsors a child, your own children can get involved by writing letters to or drawing pictures for the child, helping to pick out gifts, etc. This is a good way for your children to learn about another country and about people much less fortunate than themselves. If you cannot afford to sponsor a child, your children can still help out a needy child in another country just by being a penpal. Visit , , or .
5. Make cards for seriously ill children. Two organizations exist that forward friendly cards, small gifts, letters, etc, to children who are very ill. The mail can brighten up the day of a child who does not get to leave home often or see friends often because of his illness. The organizations that facilitate this are , and .
6. Have your children help you save up pop can tabs for Ronald McDonald House. The charity recycles the tabs and uses the money to help fund its programs. Have your children help by telling their friends, neighbors and family members to save the tabs for them. Once you have enough (a lot of people keep the tabs in milk jugs) your children can help you deliver them to Ronald McDonald House or to a place with a collection container.
Every child should experience the feeling of making a difference in the world. Once you’ve tried out these ideas with your family, see what other ways of helping out your kids can come up with on their own!