Every parent wants their kids to be kind and a good neighbor. What better way to teach those values than to take on a volunteer project you can do as a family and in the comfort of your own home (or front yard, perhaps). There are several non-profit organizations that make it easy for families to give back and have fun at the same time. Here are five ways you can teach your kids how to make a difference in the world while also helping a worthy organization.
photo: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
Sell Lemonade for Alex’s Lemonade Stand
What kiddo doesn’t want to set up a lemonade stand? Teach your little ones a humanitarian lesson by encouraging them to donate proceeds from their summer stand through Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and fight childhood cancer “one cup at a time.” The foundation was started by Alexandra “Alex” Scott who was battling cancer and vowed to raise money to fight the illness. By the time Alex died in 2004, she raised $1 million and has inspired kids across the country to sell lemonade for a great cause. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation makes it easy to get started. All you need to do is register your lemonade stand’s location, date and time. You’ll receive a free fundraising kit in the mail and a personal fundraising coach to assist you with any questions.
photo: A Million Thanks
Write a Letter to the Troops
Kiddos can get artsy and practice writing, all while doing an act of community service. Men and women serving in the armed forces oversees love notes of thanks from folks back home. Encourage your kids to write “thank you” letters or draw colorful pictures that will be sent overseas. Organizations like A Million Thanks has helped kids send more than 7.6 million letters overseas. They tell you exactly where to send the notes, provide drop-off locations and have suggestions about what to write if kids are stumped. You can send more than letters to the troops overseas too. With Halloween on the horizon, ask your kiddos to send all or a portion of their treats. Operation Gratitude makes it easy to donate Halloween candy and get it to the brave men and women who are out of the country on Halloween.
photo: Leah Singer
Host a Bake Sale to End Child Hunger
No Kid Hungry is committed to making sure kids never go hungry. One of the ways they meet this goal is through the Bake Sale to End Child Hunger. This national fundraising initiative is simple: you hold a bake sale in your community and the proceeds are donated back to the organization. Getting started is easy and bake sales can be held any time of the year. Simply fill out the Start a Bake Sale online form and you enter in the dates, locations and times. You can download bake sale flyers, handouts and donation request letters and lots more right on the website. The hardest part is deciding what you’ll bake and sell.
photo: Project Linus Facebook page
Make a Homemade Comfy Blanket
Linus from the Peanuts comic is not the only person who knows the value a comfy blanket can bring. Project Linus understands too, and they make it their mission to provide homemade security blankets to kids in hospitals, shelters or wherever they need a bit of comfort in their lives. You and your family can become “blanketeers” by creating a handmade blanket or afghan for a kiddo in need. Not a sewing pro? No problem! Project Linus provides a no-sew pattern. Once you’re finished, you drop it off at one of the donation centers in your closest city.
photo: The Larson Lingo Blog
Create Blessing Bags
Mel from The Larson Lingo makes blessing bags for homeless individuals during the holiday season. But there’s no reason your family can’t participate anytime of the year. Mel fills individual large Ziplock bags with items such as toiletries, snacks, new socks, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, a bottle of water, and many other things (she provides a list on her website with suggested items). Mel encourages families to shop for the items together, fill them and have the kiddos draw cards to go inside the bag. Families can then distributes the bags on their own or bring them to a local shelter.
How do you get your kids involved in giving back? Tell us your ideas in the comments.
—Leah R. Singer