Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community. Volunteers play an integral and invaluable role in helping charities achieve their goals. Without volunteers, many charities wouldn’t be able to meet their missions, and some might even cease to exist.
Volunteers often note that helping others is its own reward, and research backs that up. Researchers at the London School of Economics found that the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, the study found that the odds of being “very happy” rose by 12 percent among people who volunteered every two to four weeks compared to people who did not volunteer.
With such benefits, it’s no wonder many families look to volunteer together. Those who want to do so but may be uncertain about where to start can consider the following tips.
Find a fun activity. Kids like to mimic their parents, so parents who already volunteer may find their children are excited about following Mom and Dad’s lead. That excitement level will only increase if parents find an activity their kids are interested in. For example, many kids love animals so volunteering with a local animal shelter can be a great opportunity for families to give back together.
Speak with your child’s school. Teachers and school administrators can be great resources, sharing information about local volunteering opportunities or making age-appropriate suggestions. Parents shouldn’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from teachers, who may be in the best position to suggest opportunities that children can handle and enjoy.
Start slow. When starting out, families may be best served by choosing activities that do not require lengthy time commitments. Children may not be ready to volunteer for hours on end, so start with something simple. As kids acclimate to volunteering and their attention spans grow, parents can commit to volunteering more of their family time.
Think outside the box. Parents of toddlers or grade school-aged children may be surprised to learn that some volunteering opportunities have minimum age requirements. If such requirements are making it difficult to volunteer together as a family, parents and children can work together to come up with their own opportunities. Kids can organize a book drive to supply books to schools with depleted libraries or organize a fundraiser for a local animal shelter. The opportunities to volunteer are endless, and families should not be discouraged by age restrictions.
Volunteering together can benefit families in myriad ways.