The world needs love and kindness more than ever, so this holiday season, teach your kids the ripple effect of giving back to the community in a variety of rewarding ways. We’ve rounded up gestures both big and small that you can do as a family to help animals, sick children, the homeless, the hungry, the environment and more. Read on to see how to get involved and make a difference today.

photo: San Diego Humane Society

San Diego Humane Society
Want to help out furry friends? Any day is a great day to give to the San Diego Humane Society. Their wish list provides an easy opportunity to give from the comfort of home. Or get out into the community with a creative project to benefit animals in need of a ‘fur’ever home. Print and post Furry Fliers around your neighborhood in places like libraries and coffee shops. Each flyer creates awareness by featuring an animal available for adoption and helps them find their forever family. You can also instill awareness and compassion in your kids via the Pet Pals program. Once a month, kids ages 6-11 can head to the San Diego Humane Society to interact with and learn more about animals.

Rady Children’s In Kind Program
Create joy for a child in the hospital this season or anytime throughout the year. Donate a new toy, book, or video that will cheer up a child who isn’t able to go out and play. Top choices include matchbox cars and new release movies. Stuffed animals and used toys are not accepted. See the full wish list here. Having your kiddo help choose the donation allows them to take ownership of the project and feel good about helping too.

Donation accepted Mondays 10-11:30 a.m., Wednesdays 3-4:30 p.m., and Fridays (Dec. only) 4- 6 p.m.

Rady Children’s Hospital
3020 Children’s Way MC 5005,
San Diego, Ca 92123


photo: Cherie Gough

Feeding San Diego
According to Feeding San Diego, 1 in 8 San Diegans face hunger and food insecurity. A meaningful, memorable way to show you care is to volunteer with Feeding San Diego. Each Saturday, volunteers ages 6 and older get hands-on with food that is distributed to needy families throughout the county. You’ll spend 2 hours sorting produce or dry goods. The hard work creates a great talking point about not taking the simple things for granted and being aware that people all around us are in need. Check their online schedule to find a date to volunteer as a family or small group.

9455 Waples St., Ste. 135
San Diego Ca 92121
Phone: 858-452-3663

photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash

Meals on Wheels We Care Packages
This service project is great for families and groups like Girl Scouts. Meals on Wheels serves meals to thousands of local home-bound seniors. But, did you know you can create a care package for these older neighbors and teach kids to honor their elders at the same time? Meals on Wheels loves donations that can be delivered alongside meals as a holiday or birthday present. Click here for suggestions of desirable items. Drop off care packages in gift bags or clear plastic tupperware containers so they can be properly distributed by staff. Add joy by creating a special loving message for a senior. Donations can be dropped off at any of the 4 regional Meals on Wheels offices.

Warm Coats Drive at Burlington Coat Factory
Drop a gently-used coat off in the bin provided outside any Burlington Coat Factory. You’ll share a winter item with someone in need and also receive 10% off your purchase. The Warm Coats, Warm Hearts Drive is held Nov. 1st-Jan. 15th.

5 Locations: Chula Vista, City Heights, Clairemont, La Mesa, Vista

photo: Mint Studio Facebook

Mint Studio’s Crafting With Purpose
These wonderful crafting sessions allow kiddos to get their creative juices flowing, learn a new skill and donate their lovingly-made creations to those in need. Making a difference by creating something with your own hands can be a powerful experience for kids and adults. The Wednesday afternoon classes are designed for elementary school kids and older. Girl Scouts may earn a badge and all groups are welcome to participate. Projects range from flower arranging for hospice patients to painted rock art to brighten someone’s day to sewing a dress for an orphan and more. Click here to see the full schedule and sign up. Cost: $25 and up.

Read more about Crafting with Purpose here.

5965 Village Way, #105
San Diego, Ca 92130

photo: I Love a Clean SD Facebook

Weed Warriors at Tecolote Nature Center
If you love to spend time together in nature, help keep our parks clean by volunteering your time at The Tecolote Nature Center. Their ongoing conservation efforts give families a great opportunity to help pull weeds, dispose of trash and gather recyclables. Volunteer opportunities are available every third Sat. of the month.

Beach Cleanups with Surfrider Foundation
From the Oceanside Pier to Sunset Cliffs, our beaches are sacred places to many of us––places to play, watch a beautiful sunset and ride the waves. Help preserve the beauty of our local beaches and teach kids to do their part to keep the ocean healthy by participating in a weekend beach cleanup. The Surfrider Foundation of San Diego County hosts beach cleanups most Saturdays along many local shores. Bring gloves, hats and sunscreen. Trash grabbers and bags will be provided. Click here to get more details.

Where do you volunteer or give back to the community with your kids? Let us know in the comments.

––Cherie Gough