This time of year we often think of others – whether giving gifts to family and friends, or giving of our time and efforts to help those in need. Volunteering and being involved in service projects have many benefits and not just for those individuals or communities being helped. Finding the right project can help kids practice social skills, gain self-confidence, learn new skills, flex their problem-solving muscles, and can increase empathy and be a personally fulfilling experience. Find a cause for your class or group to support this holiday season. Here are just a few ideas and resources to consider.
- Adopt a family through a local organization such as the Salvation Army Adopt-a-Family program. It can be fun for kids to shop for gifts for kids their age.
- Visit senior residents at a nursing home, or volunteer to bring food to some older neighbors who live alone. Help them rake their leaves or decorate for the holidays.
- Organize a community clothes drive to collect seasonal clothes for a homeless shelter. Or collect food for a local food bank. Volunteer your time to serve food. You can find a local food bank using the Feeding America website.
- Make holiday packages or send letters to soldiers overseas. Use organizations such as Give2theTroops.org to connect with troops that sacrifice so much while away from their own families and friends.
- Older kids are often aware of the world’s injustices and are motivated to do something about either a local or worldwide issue. Turn that passion into action by having kids research the issue and explore practical ways to help. Maybe it’s starting a letter writing campaign, or sponsoring a fundraising event to help tackle the issue.
Your group may want to explore these websites to find a project to support:
Generationon.org wants to teach kids of all ages about ways to help others. Part of Points of Light, the world’s largest organization committed to volunteer service, Generationon.org provides service project ideas and background on important issues. Those who sign up receive helpful tips for organizing members and tracking the project’s progress. Members also receive opportunities to apply for mini-grants and prizes.
Dosomething.org is an organization targeted to teens and young adults who want to impact social change. There are over 150 campaigns to support from helping seniors become more tech savvy to donating to food banks and homeless shelters to helping animals. Signing up for a campaign allows volunteers to learn more about the problem, the solution the campaign is supporting, and provides materials and tips on ways to be part of the solution, even scholarships.