We often hear of opportunities in which we can get out there and volunteer – in our local community, in another state, maybe overseas. These are opportunities that we should take advantage of. Sometimes it can be hard to find the time to volunteer, even the motivation, but it is so worthwhile. Not only do you get to meet some great people, but there are health benefits of volunteering – both emotional and physical. Is volunteering something we should do as a family? A great, big, resounding YES!
VALUE OF VOLUNTEERING
What is the value of volunteering? I guess that that is subjective. It will mean different things to different people and families, but I can say that it will add value to your life. Some people have tried to work out the dollar value of volunteering and have calculated it to be around $21 to $25. That’s fun. But let’s look at the intrinsic value – that which makes an impact personally. There is the adage that the more we give, the happier we feel. I think that that can be true. Volunteering increases self-confidence, especially if you have struggled around other people. Here is an opportunity to develop communication skills. You are doing good for others and the community, which provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride and identity.
REASONS TO VOLUNTEER
This brings us to reasons to volunteer. Here are some of the health benefits of volunteering:
- It can help reduce anxiety, stress and depression
- Improves your mood
- It can make you happy
- Increases self confidence
- It can help you stay physically active and therefore more healthy
There are other reasons to volunteer. For some it can help with their careers – either to get a new job, or to advance in their current one. It can also be a welcome change from your work.
For families it can be a great way to teach our children and impact their lives. Here are some reasons:
- Teaches compassion
- Your children get to meet people from a variety of backgrounds
- Make new friends
- Enhances social and communication skills
- Builds up their emotional development
- It shows how you can make a difference in someone’s life
- Teaches civic responsibility
- Shows how you can give back
Aren’t even two of those great reasons to be volunteering? And you don’t have to wait until your children are “grown” or at a certain age. There are many things children, even as young as 2, can do to be a part of a volunteer service.
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES FOR KIDS
There really are many children volunteer opportunities, in that they are ones that children can do. They can sort clothes at a clothes closet, or sort and stack food at a food bank. A simple google search will show you volunteer opportunities for kids. Don’t think that you have to wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas. You can do it all year long, and many places do need help year round.
There are many activities and places that you can volunteer at together as a family.
- Animal shelters
- Food Banks
- Clothing Closets
- National Parks
- Political campaigns
But there are also ways that you can get involved as a family by doing something and donating money. These can be as easy as:
- Being part of a charity race
- Knit hats and scarves to donate to local hospitals or shelters
- Volunteering at home church (they always need people to help)
- Make birthday or special occasion cards for the elderly
- Have a bake sale or lemonade stand and donate the proceeds
- Be part of cleaning drives for parks or beaches
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen (they do have age requirements though)
- Donate clothing and toys
This resource has a great list of examples of community service projects. It is worth a read to get ideas!
You don’t have to stay local to volunteer. There are many opportunities for families to volunteer overseas as well. Look into organizations like Habitat for Humanity and see what you could do as a family. Mission trips are a form of volunteering and you can ask your local church. These can be a good starting place because they most likely have worked with families before.
Instead of going to the beach for a family trip, why not take a volunteer vacation? Use that week (or however many days) to see another country or area of the country and make a difference. One thing my husband has been looking into is WWOOFING – working on organic farms. https://wwoofinternational.org/
This is where you live and learn on an organic farm. They have farms in Africa, Americas, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and the Middle East.
SO, WHY NOT?
So, why not volunteer as a family? Make a difference, impact your children’s lives as well, and have fun doing it.