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With school out and long, often sunny days ahead, summer is a great time for children and teens to spend time giving back. Volunteering teaches young people the power of helping others. And a significant body of research shows that doing things for others can deliver a host of mental and physical health benefits, it’s good for them, too.
Children and teenagers are more likely to get excited about volunteer opportunities that reflect their interests and concerns. So, to get started, have a conversation with your child or teenager about what’s important to them and what causes they care about. From animal welfare and taking care of the environment to fighting hunger and making people feel less lonely, there are plenty of ways children of all ages can give back.
Most children can
- Help clear out their closet or toy bin to find gently used items to donate to a local nonprofit that serves families
- Go on a walk with the family and pick up litter along the way (wearing gloves, of course)
- Accompany parents or guardians on a visit to a local nursing home
- Pick out items at the grocery store or at home to donate to a local shelter or food pantry
- Help make cards for seniors, soldiers, or hospitalized children
- Plant seeds for a home or community garden
Older children and teens can
- Organize a food or coat/clothing drive for a local nonprofit
- Use talents or skills like graphic design, writing, or social media knowledge to help a local nonprofit remotely (and improve job-related skills, too)
- Participate in charity walks, runs, or sporting events
- Work with animals at a local animal shelter (but be sure to call and check age requirements first
- Plan or participate in a clean-up event at a local beach, riverfront, park, or other outdoor area
- Pick one of the many ways you may volunteer to help domesticated and wild animals
- If you’ve got long locks and are thinking of going short, think about donating to Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids
- Help wildlife as a citizen scientist, using the iNaturalist app
- Contact local nonprofit sports programs or camps for children with special needs and help
- Write a letter to a legislator about a local, state, or nationwide issue of concern
This is just a small collection of the many ways children of all ages can volunteer. But don’t be limited by a list. Work with the children in your life to come up with creative ways they can make a difference for the causes and issues they care about.