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How to instill spirit of volunteering in your kids

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Updated: January 10, 2014 11:02AM



Couple government cuts, diminishing funding sources and less free time with a need for help and what you have is a wonderful opportunity for you and your family to give back through volunteering.

Here’s our game plan.

Determine:

The amount of time you and your children have to devote to volunteering. If your child does not meet age requirements, you will likely be volunteering together. (See below).

Your child’s interests.

Your child’s abilities and skills.

Age requirements for the type of volunteering your child will do. (Note: If your child is too young, you can still help the group or organization at home. Make baked goods to bring to other volunteers, grow vegetables to add to a meal for the homeless, raise awareness of the need by telling family and friends about the group).

Is an orientation or special training required?

Health and safety codes.

Transportation needs.

Where to volunteer

The specifics on where your child will volunteer will depend on where you live and or where you are willing to travel to (i.e.: you might want to consider a volunteer vacation this year). Here are a few types of places you can contact locally to learn about volunteer opportunities:

Homeless shelters dining halls: Your child may be asked to help serve food, clean tables, welcome people in line.

Women and children’s shelters: Opportunities may exist for your child to help younger children with homework or crafts, organize birthday or seasonal parties, or just visit for playtime.

Parks and recreation department: Opportunities could vary from hiking trails’ clean up to working with younger children enrolled in after school programs.

Hospitals and or nursing homes: Volunteers are needed to help distribute books and magazines to patients and residents, as well as answer the phone or just to visit or entertain. Older children may be able to volunteer in various hospital departments.

Community events: Needs can vary widely — distribute handouts, serve water to marathon participants, man booths, set-up and clean up, more.

Restoring living spaces for low income, elderly, disabled. Unless your children are skilled builders, chances are the work they will be asked to do will not involve construction. However, children middle school age and up can help paint, clean up, make sandwiches.

Library: Shelving books, magazines, DVDs.

Local chapters of fund-raising organizations devoted to curing Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, etc.

Tip from the parenting trenches: Still can’t find the right group to volunteer with? Check the websites of your city, county, state as well as your local chamber of commerce. Often these organizations list volunteer opportunities.

Scripps Howard News Service



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