Volunteering is a great way for kids to learn the importance of caring about others and their community. It can also help them build confidence and self-esteem, learn new skills and make friends.
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities out there for the kids in your life. With your help and encouragement, they can find an activity that matches their interests and abilities. Sarah Fanslau of generationOn offers some age-specific suggestions:
K through 5th-graders
For young children, hands-on activities they can do with an adult are ideal:
- Weed a neighbor's garden.
- Bake pumpkin bread for a teacher.
- Make greeting cards for residents of a senior center.
6th- through 8th-graders
For tweens and early teens, social activities work best. "These kids like to do things with their peers," Fanslau says. Encourage your child to join forces with a few friends, and help them seek opportunities that interest them:
- Volunteer at a hospital.
- Make dog treats to donate to a local animal shelter.
- Upcycle an old soda bottle into a piggy bank, and save change for a local nonprofit.
9th- through 12th-graders
"Older teenagers are independent and have great critical thinking skills," Fanslau says. "They can do just about anything adults can do."
- Organize a dance or musical performance at a local senior center.
- Create a living history project by interviewing veterans about their military service.
- Start a school supply drive to collect donations for kids in need in your community.
School's out, summer's in!
As you're planning your warm-weather activities, talk with the young people in your life about how and where they want to volunteer this summer. Thrivent members: It's easy to apply to lead a Thrivent Action Team. Looking for more inspiration? Check out these other volunteer ideas (PDF).