ways to volunteer with kidsWhen my girls were younger we made shopping for toys to donate a holiday tradition. Now that they’re a little older, I’m brainstorming ways to up their volunteerism/charitable giving. But here’s my struggle. I want them to understand the importance of giving, but I don’t want them to feel sympathy for the people they’re helping.

I want them to see that we are all in this thing called life together, and while they may be in a position to donate things or time, the people they are sharing with also have something to offer. So, this list includes things where not only are they donating, they are gaining something, too. Hopefully, this will reinforce that receiving wisdom, time and relationship are valuable. And in turn help my girls to look at the people/animals they are helping as valuable parts of our society, not “the needy,” or some other title that doesn’t reflect their worth.

Here are five ways you can volunteer with your kids:

Read to therapy dogs. I LOVE this! It’s great for kids to practice reading out loud, especially those that may not be comfortable reading in front of classmates yet. Secondly, it gives kids an opportunity to be the leader. And since I’m not signing off on us getting a pet any time soon, it gives them face time with a pet I don’t have to take care of on a daily basis, :-). In the Charlotte area our library hosts “Paws to Read” events, but if you google “kids reading to therapy dogs (insert your city or state)” you can find out if there are any opportunities in your neighborhood.

Be a guest reader at a preschool/younger sibling’s class. Have a child that’s a few years older than her sibling? Ask the younger siblings teacher if the older child can be a guest reader in class. The older sibling will love being a surprise for the younger sibling and the younger sibling will enjoy having their sister in class with them

Spending time together + doing good = a great way to make memories with your daughter.

Work towards the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Okay, I am so disappointed I didn’t know about this before now. I love that this is a trackable way to gauge volunteer efforts and that at the end there’s recognition from the President. The website has all of the information on participating, finding opportunities and stories from other volunteers.

Let her mentor up. Kids can teach us about many things; technology is the first thing that comes to mind.Schedule time for her to teach a “how to use your smartphone/tablet/computer/social media/etc. class at an assisted living/nursing home. You can serve as her assistant. Or how about a craft project? The perk is that she (and you) can learn from her elders, and the relationships/wisdom are priceless.

Donate a birthday party. Birthdays are a big deal in our home, so I like the idea of donating a party to another child. An organization that does this in Charlotte is Bright Blessings, and you can donate items and money. To find something in your area try googling, “donate birthday gifts to kids.” You can also contact your local Women’s Shelter, or ask other organizations like United Way or Housing Authority for suggestions on nonprofit organizations that fill this need.

Enjoy spending time with your girl! Towanda