Head off the "I'm bored" complaints by planning to volunteer this summer break. Not only can you find fun activities and teach your children the value of giving back, but volunteering has well-documented benefits for health and well-being. Plus, you can find a way to volunteer that suits virtually every family. Here are some ideas for your kids based on age.
Here are some specific ideas for summer volunteer opportunities for kids of different ages:
Plant for the future: Partner with a local conservation or gardening organization to plant trees, flowers, or other flora in your community. This is an excellent way for kids to learn about environmental conservation while making a lasting impact.
Build birdhouses: Help kids build birdhouses and donate them to a local park or nature center.
Organize a community clean-up: Grab some garbage bags and gloves and join your kids as they help pick up litter and make their neighborhood cleaner.
Help a summer reading program: Libraries often offer summer reading programs where kids can volunteer to read to younger children. The reader and audience benefit and may improve their reading skills.
Lend a hand at the animal shelter: Many animal shelters and rescuers may need volunteers to help socialize and care for animals. If your child can’t volunteer directly with animals, they can work on collecting items for the shelter's residents, such as pet food and supplies, gently used towels and sheets, and other things. Check with the organization to find out what they need.
Grow something: Community gardens often need volunteers to help with planting, watering, and weeding. In addition, your children can learn how to grow vegetables and assist in providing fresh produce for the community. Also, look for gleaning programs that help people whose gardens have produced abundantly by harvesting and distributing the food to people in need.
Be a “pen pal:” Your child can help someone else feel less lonely by corresponding with them. Make cards and letters to send to homebound or hospitalized older adults or children. Or develop an ongoing email correspondence through an organization like
Help combat hunger: Check with your local food bank to see if they need volunteers to sort and distribute food. This type of volunteering both helps provide food to help people thrive and teaches your children about food insecurity.
Habitat for Humanity: Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable housing for those in need. This is a great way to learn construction skills while making a difference in your community.
Be a hospital volunteer: Many medical centers have teen volunteer programs. Your child may be able to help with administrative tasks, deliver mail to patients, or assist with other tasks while learning what it’s like to work in a medical setting.
For children who are immunocompromised or cannot undertake in-person volunteer opportunities, many organizations offer virtual options you can do from home. Check out this list of virtual opportunities or find more at www.createthegood.org.