The Great Summer Give Back: 3 Volunteer Activities For Kids
As a working mother, summers are chaotic. From those last weeks of school and the seemingly constant half-days and parent-sponsored activities, until the last days of summer vacation, we have to organize childcare, plan activities, and deal with the constant chorus of tiny voices asking for snacks and complaining of boredom. There needs to be a way to fill the time with more than just video games and sibling arguments.
One great way to fill summer days – or just keep the kids busy on a rainy weekend when you’re stuck inside – is by encouraging them to give back to the community through volunteer activities for kids. After all, if we want to raise our children to be engaged, responsible citizens, we have to start young. And with the right activity, even the youngest children can share their talents with others.
One of the easiest ways for kids to make an impact without adding to your busy summer schedule is by doing creative projects for a good cause – and you might already have the materials on hand.
So what can they make that won’t end up at the bottom of the closet? Next time the kids complain they’re bored, get out the leftover fabric paints and craft some pillowcases for Camp Dreamcatcher. This non-profit summer program runs a summer camp for kids affected by HIV/AIDS, as well as other services, and these unique pillowcases can brighten a camper’s stay and help them feel more comfortable in their home away from home.
Another simple activity that kids can do any time is paint some rocks. But who does that benefit? The recent rock painting craze stems from a small initiative called The Kindness Rocks Project; the founder painted rocks with inspirational messages and left them around her community and soon it took on a life of its own. Now families all over the country are painting cheerful rocks to share with the community. Plus, it’s a good opportunity to talk to your kids about bullying, friendship, and positive thinking. Just check out The Kindness Rocks Project Instagram for ideas.
Give Back With Gear
Some days, it’s hard enough to get the kids to put their shoes on and out of the house, never mind scheme up some volunteer activity to participate in – and we totally understand. So how do you keep up the conversation about giving back when you just want a nap? Those are the days you get out your give back gear, clothing from companies that are doing great work in the world.
There are countless clothing companies that support charities with their work and are really community-oriented, and they’re definitely not boring. For example, Juvenile Virtuoso adorns their clothes with art by talented young people, while supporting the Arts for Healing Foundation, while the cool literary clothes from Out Of Print fund book donations and literacy programming. These companies offer your kids (and you) a chance to be a trendsetter while supporting charitable work. Just getting dressed can help get the word out about important causes.
Set Up On The Sidewalk
No matter where you live, no matter what your child is interested in, one day they’re going to ask you to open a lemonade stand. Why? If we had to guess, we’d say it has to do with the idea of making money and the popularity of lemonade stands in children’s media. But regardless of the reason, as a parent, your impulse is going to be to say no. It’s too much work. It’s not actually profitable. And it’s too messy. No.
But what if that lemonade stand offered a way for your children to help kids with cancer? Through the Alex’s Lemonade Stand program, kids can support childhood cancer research while living that lemonade stand dream. They can also sponsor the foundation through parties, craft sales, and other activities, but it’s summer and why not let them try to hawk cool glasses of lemonade? Just set up a card table outside and let them get to work. Your kids will have fun, practice their math skills, and help an important cause all at once.
One of the best ways to encourage your kids to give back to the community is just to listen to what they’re interested in and connect it to the larger world. Do they love animals? Maybe they can spend time volunteering at an animal shelter or the local zoo. Do they like to sing? Many nursing homes enjoy hosting youth musical groups for the residents to enjoy. So in the midst of the summer chaos, listen in, and expand the conversation. Kids can do more than we often allow.