Cynthia Lanciloti's Blog
Volunteering is a great way to begin to engage with your new community. It is also a great way to get your kids involved in their neighborhood, and it provides an excellent teaching and growth opportunity for you and your children. You can start teaching your kids empathy and instill care for their community and world early in life. Even if your little ones are toddlers or elementary students, they can absolutely get involved. So, what options are the best for you and your young children?
- Adopt more grandparents: Establish a weekly or bi-weekly trip with your kids visiting a retirement community in your area. Teach your kids to make friends and engage with elderly residents. Bring games to play with their newly adopted grandparents and make cards or draw pictures at home to bring on each visit.
- Adopt a family or child: During back-to-school time or over the holidays adopt a family or child with your kids. Inform them about the reason the family is in need and what you and your children can do to help. Bring them with you to the store and let them select the notebooks, mechanical pencils, toys and necessities to support the family.
- Community clean up: Your kids can participate in keeping their community beautiful from an early age. From your street to your neighborhood, local park or community wildlife center it’s easy to start teaching your kids to preserve their environment with simple trash pickup.
- Serve meals or donate food: For holidays, or any day of the year, take your kids with you to a shelter or soup kitchen and teach them to give service to those less fortunate. Take your kids to the store to select necessities and canned goods to donate to a food pantry or deliver to homeless you see on the street. By interacting with those in need and offering your services, you can teach your kids compassion and understanding by introducing them to different walks of life.
- Walk for charity: Make a plan with your kids to join a walk for charity. There are many opportunities for your family participate in charitable walks so start by brainstorming with your kids to determine what charity they want to support. Help them prepare paperwork to ask for donations and practice their requests, then help them learn to follow through by walking with them on the day of the charity walk.
- Bring joy to a children’s ward: Commit to a weekly or monthly hospital visit you’re your kids to visit other sick children. Make get-well-soon cards, bring games to play or give out candy and gifts at Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and Easter. Visiting children in need will teach gratitude and empathy to your kids.
- Community garden: Teach your kids skills and give them the means to contribute to their community by helping plant and cultivate your local community garden. Work with them to learn which plants will work best in the environment, which will most benefit the neighborhood, and how to care for the plants over time.
- Visit an animal shelter: Volunteer to walk dogs or play with cats or rabbits with your kids. Sign up for a pet adoption day and have your kids help introduce other kids to new animals for their family. You can even make no-sew toys for cats and dogs at home, using old t-shirts or jeans, and bring the toys to the shelter to donate.
- Random acts of kindness: Teach your kids to engage in random acts of kindness to show them how to recognize goodness and need in the world and establish in them the habit of always looking for in-the-moment opportunities to do something nice for others. Make sweet little cards at home with candy inside that say "Thank you!" or "Have a great day!." Have them pay attention during errand outings for cashiers, sales clerks or random people in the store that might need a pick-me-up or just for someone to recognize them. Teach them to help their neighbors by offering to help unload groceries, rake the lawn or walk the dog.
There are many ways to start getting your kids involved in and concerned about bettering their community and the world at large early in life. Start when they’re young and continue instilling in them an ongoing desire to contribute.