Little kids have the biggest hearts. The ooey-gooey, mushy kind that melt yours. You can see it in their goofy grins, their enthusiastic (and sometimes a little bit messy) hugs and their willingness to share. Well, sometimes anyway. So, if you’ve got a little one who’s looking to share some of that loving heart, look no further. We’ve sought and found some super fun and creative ways for families to give a little something back this summer.

Diaper Drive West Side Baby

Fundraise

The Organization
Obliteride
If you haven’t heard of Obliteride, it’s possible you’ve spent the last few months under a rock, because news of this newcomer is traveling fast. Obliterid-ers are hitting the road (bike, that is) to raise money for Fred Hutch. That’s right, the groundbreaking cancer research institute right in our backyard. And the best part? All the money raised (as in 100%) goes directly to cancer research. So every penny donated gets researchers one step (or should we say pedal) closer to ending cancer. Riders bike anywhere between 25 and 180 miles in this scenic tour that includes some serious perks at the starting line (hello, Tom Douglas dinner and live music) and along the course.

Bike riding family Obliteride

Get Involved
Be a virtual rider
Kids of all ages are getting inspired to lend a hand any way they can. Since Obliterid-ers have to be at least 14, youngsters are coming up with some super creative ways to raise money for the cause. Read some of their stories and then create your own by becoming a virtual rider. It’s as easy as creating a fundraising page, contributing the initial $25, and inviting friends. Leave it to the kiddos (that silly, creative bunch) to put the fun back in fundraising by figuring out different ways to gather some green. How about biking around the block walk-a-thon style, or hey, even doing a walk-a-thon, donating birthday presents, or holding a garage sale? Whatever they choose to reach their goal, they’ll “ride” alongside the bikers in their road to making a difference.

Obliteride
Dates: August 9-11
Online: www.obliteride.org

The Organization
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation
Yay for summertime in Seattle! The lovely not too hot, not too cold temps with plenty of sunshine to fill the days are perfect. Perfect for selling lemonade on the street corner at your own little stand. With just a can of Minute Maid, a pitcher and a hand-painted sign, even the tiniest youngsters can fundraise to fight childhood cancer. This simple idea, from a 4-year old cancer patient, has turned into a national foundation that’s raised millions of dollars for cancer research since Alex raised her first $2,000 at a lemonade stand in the summer of 2000. Now that’s serious inspiration from a little cup of lemonade.

Emily Ulber BC-WC Community Education

Get Involved
Set up a Lemonade Stand
This is a natural fit for enterprising kiddos who like to visit with neighbors and practice their sales skills. And setting up your own stand to benefit the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is easy peasy lemon squeezy. Just be sure to register the stand with the foundation, and they’ll send out a packet of materials and provide a phone call from a fundraising coach (if you choose it) to help you reach your goal. Then get ready to “mix, pour and find a cure” alongside other families around the country this summer.

Online: alexslemonade.org

Donate

The Organization
West Side Baby
If there’s one thing kiddos know, it’s diapers. And so do their parents. Probably more than we’d like to admit. This intimacy with diapers makes West Side Baby a great place for kids to do a little donating. This amazing King County resource provides all things baby to families in need. And this July they’re gearing up for their annual Stuff The Bus Diaper Drive. Here’s where the young ones come in. As diaper connoisseurs, they’ll get a kick out of choosing just the right diapers for kids in need. Pampers, Huggies or Kirkland brand, the wee ones know which diapers truly rock the driest fit in town. West Side baby has a goal of collecting 250,000 diapers this month. And that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what they need—22 million diapers to help the more than 10,000 children age 2 and under living in poverty in King County. So, get ready to help cover those bottoms!

Stuff the Bus Diaper Drive 2012

Get Involved
Stuff the Bus
At the heart of this amazing event is a little bit of family fun. Trying to stuff school buses full of diapers! It’ll put a smile on your face, no matter what age you are. So plan to drive the kiddos over to one of the two drop-off locations on July 21st and watch them literally stuff the bus. The organizers have made this one an easy adventure for parents with little kids in tow. A quick drive in, diaper hand off and drive out is all it takes. And you can either drive on through or find a place to park (there’s a designated area), after the donation has been dropped, and explore the bus. The minis will get a kick out of seeing just how many diapers can fit into each one! Music, balloons and a festive air are all part of the celebration. And don’t worry, if you can’t make the event, you can still drop diapers off at the donation center, or arrange a drop off near you.

Hold a Virtual Fundraiser
Follow the lead of little Violet (this sweet 5 year old has raised a sweet grand for West Side Baby so far!) and host a virtual fundraiser through Crowdrise. This is a fab-u chance for the little lot to put their creative juices to the test, as they consider ways to raise some dough for diapers. A sidewalk sale? Or maybe passing up birthday presents for diapers? Whatever they choose, setting up a fundraising page is a simple three-step process. Just log on, find friends, and select the Stuff the Bus 2013 as the charity.

Good to know: Unpackaged diapers and swim diapers are ok to bring too. It’s a great way to pass along leftover diapers that just don’t fit your little one anymore. As for size, any and all are accepted, but the most needed sizes are always 4, 5 and 6.

West Side Baby Stuff the Bus
American West Bank
4022 SW Alaska Street
Seattle, Wa 98116

Burien Toyota
15025 First Avenue South
Burien, Wa 98148
Online: www.westsidebaby.org

Date and Time: July 21, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (at both locations)
Contact: Becky@Westsidebaby.org for additional volunteer information

Volunteer

The Organization
University District Food Bank
Volunteering with young kids can sometimes be challenging. Most organizations have a minimum age that makes it hard for families to give their time, especially with kiddos 5 and under. But the University District Food Bank loves family volunteers! And they’ve got plenty of ways for tots and their parents to help the more than 1,100 families in need who receive assistance each week from the food bank in the form of groceries, toiletries and baby items. That adds up fast. Last year they distributed 2.3 million pounds of food to people in need. Talk about heavy lifting! So strap on the baby, bring the toddler or take your big kid down to give a little time at this much-needed community resource.

Girl food bank volunteers

Get Involved
Families can volunteer their time two different ways at the U District Food Bank. The evening hours (the 4th Wednesdays of odd numbered months, from 7:00 pm -9:00 pm. Say that three times fast!) work best for families with toddlers and babies. Since they’re closed, it’s quiet and there’s more space for kids to roam. Plus, they’ll get a kick out of repackaging bulk food items. Big scoops for digging in are a toddler’s bestie, after all. There’s also lots of re-shelving going on once they’ve closed up shop. Timed races for the kiddos will make quick work of those cans! Evening hours are drop-in, so no sign-up is required. And if the wee ones are getting antsy, you can always head home. Volunteering just after the food bank opens works best with the 5 and up crowd, as it’s a little busier when they’re open for business. The kiddos will love to play grocery store check out, as they unload, sort and re-bag food for patrons during the morning hours. Families should definitely sign up ahead of time for these volunteer hours. Tuesdays work well, but if you’d like to try a different time, just shoot them an email asking for available times.

University District Food Bank
1413 NE 50th Street
Seattle, Wa 98105
Phone: 206-523-7060
Online: www.udistrictfoodbank.org

Dates and Times: July 24, September 25, November 27, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm; or email volunteer@udistrictfoodbank.org to arrange morning hours.

Wanna know the best part of all? Families can fundraise, donate or volunteer for these (or other) organizations year round!

Love to give back with your kiddos? Let us know your family’s fave ways to make a difference in a comment below.

–Allison Sutcliffe

Photos thanks to: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, West Side Baby, Katy Rindal for University District Food Bank, Mark Grantor for Obliteride