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5 Benefits to Volunteering with Kids Under 14

January 18, 2016

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5 Benefits to Volunteering with Kids under 14

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  Did you volunteer today?  If you did, did you take your kids with you?

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Aliza sweeping out the rabbit cages

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Feeding the rabbit fresh greens

This weekend I took seriously the idea of this day as being a day ON rather than a day off.

I volunteered and took my 7-year old daughter with me.  On Saturday we went to a Rabbit Rescue and helped clean the cages of and feed the rabbits.   This morning, my husband, father, daughter and I went to do a clothing sort and write letters to our armed forces abroad.

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Volunteering as a Family Affair – my daughter, husband, and father at the Big Sunday clothing sort community event – January 18, 2016

According to an article “The Future of Volunteering: Children Under the Age of 14 as Volunteers” there are 5 major benefits to having younger children volunteer.

  1. It Helps Kids Make Healthier Lifestyle Choices – kids who volunteered were less likely to engage in negative behaviors and make poor choices, such as abusing drugs or alcohol, dropping out of school, or becoming pregnant.
  2. It Enhances Psychological, Social, and Intellectual Development – Studies have shown that volunteering increases self-esteem, responsibility, interest in learning, and moral reasoning in children.Volunteering helps children learn that they are significant in the lives of others, and recognize that they have the ability to make a difference.  It helps them develop better relationships with adults and other children.

    Volunteering teaches new material and opportunities to apply the newly learned material.  The type of experiential learning that volunteering provides is very valuable and sometimes even more effective than traditional learning.

  3. It Teaches Life Skills – Through volunteering children learn to complete tasks, be punctual and reliable, the importance of getting along with others, and more.
  4. It Improves the Greater Community – though children are often thought of as helpless and non-contributors, through volunteering children can greatly contribute and provide value in society.  As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. so eloquently stated:

    “Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

    You also, don’t have to be an adult to serve, as my daughter, and the other kids I observed this weekend, so beautifully demonstrated as they swept, sorted, fed, wrote letters to service members, and more.

  5. It Encourages a Lifetime of Service – Studies have shown that if a child gets started early in service, they will be much more likely to volunteer as an adult.  This service ethic is not just important for the community, it’s important for the child and later adult.  Studies have shown that volunteering increases self-confidence, sense of purpose and happiness in adults.  It’s a win-win for all.  So if you take your kids to volunteer – you’re also getting wonderful benefits.

These are the benefits for kids, us, and the society to having them volunteer.  I’d love to know in the comments – are you volunteering with your kids?  If so, what do you do?

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Martin Luther King, Jr Day of Service: How to Find Kid-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities

January 11, 2016

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This coMLK Logoming Monday, January 18, 2016 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  For most of you reading this it’s a day off of work and a day off of school for the kids.  You could take the day off kick back and relax or you can take the day on — a day in service to your neighborhood and community.

I like to do a day on and to bring my kids to do the community service project with me.  It’s a way for us to give back and for them to learn the value of service.  They learn that it’s not only good to do, it feels really good too.

Many service opportunities are for adults only, but there are plenty of opportunities for you to involve your kids.  How do you find an opportunity right for you and your family?  Here are three good options:

1. Serve.gov/Allforgood.org

Serve.gov is one great place to start. It’s the government’s website for volunteer opportunities.  When I went on to find a volunteer opportunity, it directed me to allforgood.org.  On that site, you can search using “more options” and set search restrictions using “youngest age allowed”, “miles from your home” and areas of interest, etc.  It’s quite user friendly.

2. VolunteerMatch.org

Using VolunteerMatch.org to search for volunteer activities is straightforward and fairly simple.  You type in your zip code and a keyword about the type of activity you want and you get a list immediately.  If you scroll down, on the left side of the page is a section called “More Filters.”  There you can click on the box for “Kids” and it will limit the search to opportunities appropriate for age 13 and under.  You will have to check each individual entry to see what age group they allow – many are for 10+.

3. HandsOn Network

The HandsOn Network is the volunteer arm of the Points of Light Institute, a large nonprofit organization inspired by President George H.W. Bush’s Daily Point of Light Award for individuals who have made a difference.  Just like VolunteerMatch.org and Allforgood.org you can search for opportunities by type and by location.  While they don’t allow you to search by age like the others, they do have local “Action Centers” you can contact to help you find opportunities in your area.  Also, you can contact someone within their organization who will help your company set up a customized employee volunteer program. ***

8405995823_42ecdf0de0_oI searched through these website and found a great opportunity caring for rescued rabbits that was good for 5+.  My 7-year old daughter will love it.  It’s not on the actual day – it’s on the Saturday of MLK Weekend, but this now allows us to attend the parade on Monday.  It’s all good and I’m looking forward to it!

If you do find a service opportunity, please post in the comments what you’re doing and/or how it went.

 

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