It’s that time of year when thoughts naturally turn to helping others. Sometimes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by requests for donations. I think that teaching our kids the importance of giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate should be an ongoing process–not just one reserved for November and December.
That being said, we thought we’d offer some suggestions for kid-friendly volunteering opportunities. Remember–it doesn’t have to be about money–it’s giving your TIME and ENERGY that matters! These are life lessons that your children will never forget, and volunteering can become something the whole family looks forward to doing together–all through the year!
- The Salvation Army Bell Ringing is underway! The best part about this is that the money collected in the kettles stays right HERE in the KC metro. My 8-year-old son and I have manned the kettle for several 2-hour shifts at our neighborhood Hy-Vee for the past 5 years–and kids have a way of turning EVERY passer-by into a donor! Bundle up the whole family and enjoy a great time together. The 2 hours fly by and it’s such a great experience.
- Check out the Youth Volunteer Corps of Greater KC. YVC organizes youth and family helpers at Harvesters, the city’s largest food bank. Your help is needed sorting and boxing donated food! It’s no news that food banks are running dangerously low now…some are even forced to close their doors. You might consider a small neighborhood or classroom food drive…and then deliver the food to Harvesters on the day you choose to volunteer. Location: 3801 Topping Ave., KCMO 816.929.3000
- Adopt a family through Don Bosco Centers’ Holiday Friends! This is such a great project for a family or neighborhood to take on. Holiday Friends is a fundraising program which benefits the clients of the Don Bosco Centers. You can get specific names, ages and sizes for a family in need and can even personally deliver your gifts. This really shows us the true meaning of the holiday season! Your kids will never forget it. For more information, call the Holiday Friends Hotline at 816-691-2906 or visit www.donbosco.org.
- Check out www.VolunteerMatch.org. The site features loads of volunteer opportunities, and you can organize your results by Distance, Event Date and even Date Posted. While not all are kid-specific opportunities, you might find something suitable for the whole family or just for you!
- Operation Breakthrough. Operation Breakthrough- St. Vincent’s Family Service Center is located at 30th and Troost in KCMO. According to their website, volunteers range from ages 8-80 and do everything from “rocking babies to tutoring parents for the GED exam.” They also have an adopt-a-family Christmas program, similar to Don Bosco Center’s. The children who receive Christmas aid all come from low-income families. Some are homeless, many reside in foster care and most attend Operation Breakthrough’s day care program or are alumni. Please help!
- Brighten someone’s day with a little artistic cheer… you can do something as simple as having your child(ren) draw some holiday-themed pictures; use glue, markers, construction paper, glitter, etc. Take your creations to a nearby nursing home or to Children’s Mercy Hospital near Crown Center or Children’s Mercy South at I-435 and Nall. You’ll be glad you did!
- City Union Mission– You can go in with family, friends or coworkers to adopt a family for the holidays through City Union Mission, too. Please remember that families need our help year-round…not just at the holidays. Click here for a list of inexpensive, everyday items which you could collect and deliver to the Mission any day of the year.
- Is there an agency that is near and dear to your heart? Why not carve out a few extra hours from your weekly schedule and help out? Schools, nursing homes, not-for-profits, food banks, thrift stores, community centers…all are feeling the effects of the economy and would gladly accept your gift of time!
Please feel free to submit any additional kid and family-friendly volunteer opportunities. We would be happy to post them!
*image courtesy of ron sombilon / creative commons