This coming 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:
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.
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. ***
I 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.