How to Give Back This Year
The Benefits of Volunteering
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It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Often we forget to slow down and the result is a growing disconnect between our family members. The thing is, family bonding is important. It helps improve your children’s self-esteem, releases stress, and contributes to a more positive and healthy lifestyle. A great way to promote family bonding is through dedicated activities you can do together-- activities like volunteering.
Volunteering as a family has many benefits. First of all, giving back feels good. It gives you a sense of pride and satisfaction when you spend time helping others, especially if you work with an organization involved in something you care deeply about. Furthermore, there is research that suggests charitable work actually activates pleasure systems in the brain. Giving back together as a family helps teach your children about how doing good can feel good and they carry that lesson with them throughout the rest of their lives.
Families that volunteer together also have stronger bonds. The shared memories bring you closer together and doing something that betters the community instills respect in one another. Doing something new also encourages family members to learn and grow together.
Finally, getting kids involved in volunteer work is good for their future. Giving back is a key element in helping children build strong morals. It also gives them real world experience they can use when deciding what it is they want to do with their lives. Volunteer experience is also good for school clubs, honors societies, interviews, and future college applications. They also pick up critical skills like teamwork, leadership, and strategy.
Ideas for Family Volunteering
By now you’re probably pretty convinced that your family would benefit from volunteering together. The next step is figuring out what to do! Your family’s project should reflect your values and goals. Talk to your kids about the options you have before you, what they would like to do, and come to the decision together. Here are just a few of the activities you can try out.
Most of us live so far away from where our food is grown and raised, your average kid doesn’t know how a vegetable is grown. Getting closer to the earth by volunteering with a community garden is a great way to teach your kids about biology, food production, teamwork, organization, and a plethora of other lessons you will stumble upon.
Food banks receive donations from businesses and organizations throughout the year and rely on volunteers to help when it comes to receiving, sorting, and distributing them. Working with your local food bank or pantry is a great way to contribute to an organization that helps fight hunger in your community. All it takes is an afternoon to help make a big difference.
Litter Pick Up
Nobody likes the sight of litter. Spending your time picking up litter in your neighborhood or local park doesn’t just improve the area’s looks-- it also helps instill a sense of pride in your community. You’d be surprised how into this activity kids can get. See if you can make a game out of it-- who can pick up the most?!
Kids love puppies and kitties, so don’t be surprised if they leap on this idea! Volunteering at an animal shelter is a great way to help out defenseless animals. It will teach your children about compassion and responsibility. You can also get in a fair amount of exercise spending time walking and playing with pups. A fair warning: you may end up wanting to bring some of these furry cuties home with you.
Family volunteering is a great way to promote bonding while also teaching your children valuable skills and lessons. The shared memories you make while doing charitable work can be cherished for the rest of your lives. Plus, it feels great to give back! Pick an activity that aligns with your family’s values to help keep you encouraged and involved.
Amanda Henderson is a mom to two wonderful, active boys and a preschool teacher. She enjoys writing in her free time, and recently decided to create safechildren.info so that she would have a place to share her thoughts and favorite resources on parenting and child safety.
Author of Family Volunteering: How to Give Back