Unique ideas for community service for HS'ers - Mothering Forums
Learning at Home and Beyond > Unique ideas for community service for HS'ers
LauraLoo's Avatar LauraLoo 12:52 PM 02-09-2010
I'm looking for suggestions for community service/volunteer work that would be viable for younger children. Does anyone have any unique ideas or ways to approach businesses or organizations that might be open to some extra help, but aren't necessarily the ones that everyone typically thinks of (ie. soup kitchens)?

sleepypeanutsmom's Avatar sleepypeanutsmom 02:35 PM 02-09-2010
Thanks for posting this! I have an 8 year old as well and we've been looking for a volunteer opportunity that we can do together. She really wanted to work with dogs so we looked into our local animal shelter. They only accept volunteers age 11 or older (even with an adult!).

Since she really wants to work with animals I've been considering calling a dog kennel to see if they take volunteers.

I'd love to hear other ideas...
MaterBum's Avatar MaterBum 03:28 PM 02-09-2010
Our group volunteers at our local library. The kids wash all the toys, tables, puzzles, chairs out for the kids to use in the children's area. The library LOVES this as it needs to be done for health reasons, but none of them really wants to do it. We moms love it because the kids really do it, not us! They divide the toys into the ones that can go in the sink, the ones that need to just be wiped down, and the ones they need to put in bags for the librarians to send out to a professional cleaner (stuffed animals, etc.). Then they dry everything, and put it back out, pull out the fabric toys that are back from the cleaners, and generally just tidy up the entire children's area. The librarians have been so thankful!

We have also made scrap-quilt blankets for our local shelter and the kids got to drop them off after they made them.

We have decorated paper place mats for the local nursing home, so the residents see cute drawings and notes when they use them.

Hope these ideas help!
PNCTink's Avatar PNCTink 03:35 PM 02-09-2010
I know that nursing homes/senior living communities may be a typical volunteer opportunity, but the residents of these facilities really enjoy it. They have an influx of children that come in to sing or give cards, etc. during the holidays, but not many during the rest of the year. You could do craft projects, baking, games, finger nail polishing, or just visiting. Maybe you could all engage in an armchair travel series where you learn about other countries together? GL!
pajamajes's Avatar pajamajes 03:46 PM 02-09-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepypeanutsmom View Post
Thanks for posting this! I have an 8 year old as well and we've been looking for a volunteer opportunity that we can do together. She really wanted to work with dogs so we looked into our local animal shelter. They only accept volunteers age 11 or older (even with an adult!).

Since she really wants to work with animals I've been considering calling a dog kennel to see if they take volunteers.

I'd love to hear other ideas...
I would try getting in touch with some smaller animal rescues and see what they say. I volunteer for 4 or 5 different rescues and the smaller ones seem more likely to have younger kids playing with the puppies and kittens and helping clean up (with parents, of course).
VisionaryMom's Avatar VisionaryMom 04:06 PM 02-09-2010
I volunteer @ a women's transitional home and am on the volunteer committee. We often have things like stuffing envelopes or packets for fundraisers or setting up tables and things like that small children can help do.
mangopassion's Avatar mangopassion 07:59 PM 02-09-2010
I have to bookmark this thread because I was literally just thinking about this and was having trouble coming up with ideas. It's good to know that animal shelters might take an 11 year old, though, as CherryPie is 11 and it's probably something she would enjoy.

A question I have about senior centers that might seem a bit ignorant (I'm sorry): are germs a concern? Either the people at the centers passing germs onto our children or vice versa? I really like how my kids are nearly never ill because we homeschool. I just imagine that the workers at the senior centers would worry about my kids bringing in germs and maybe say NO to us visiting. I would also worry that the people there would be sick and passing on illnesses to my kids. I honestly have no idea if people in senior centers are chronically sick. But in my former life I was a nurse and I was sick all the time because of being around sick kids all of the time. I remember having strep throat for 6 months straight... even while on antibiotics... it just kept coming back. Anyway, sorry to get off track, but does anyone know if this should be a concern?
PNCTink's Avatar PNCTink 08:26 PM 02-09-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by mangopassion View Post
A question I have about senior centers that might seem a bit ignorant (I'm sorry): are germs a concern? Either the people at the centers passing germs onto our children or vice versa?
Well, we used to ask that if your child was sick that you not bring them in. OTOH, we tried to keep sick residents out of common areas. We always emphasized hand washing and other universal precautions (ie face masks if necessary) as well. I brought my DD to work with me one day/week for the first 18 months of her life and she never got sick. I was vigilant about handwashing, but I'm not saying that it isn't a risk. I just figured we had just as much of a chance getting sick going to the grocery store or the library. You could always call ahead too, to make sure no one is sick or the residence isn't quarantined.
Callimom's Avatar Callimom 09:32 PM 02-09-2010
WE do a fair amount of volunteering in our community and have for a while. My kids are 6, 8, 8 and 11 now. Some of these are probably typical but I'll give you the list anyway:

visiting seniors - my 11 year old goes weekly and my other kids go monthly and on special occasions. Our weekly co-op also goes to a seniors home monthly for programming and seniors come and hang out with the kids - it's usually crafts or seasonal celebrations.

packing boxes - we have the warehouse of a huge charity here and we often go and pack food or hygiene boxes. Last year they received a donation of 1000s of unmatched crocs - so we helped match them - HUGE job - lol. The kids love doing this - I am always surprised how much they do. Yesterday 10 of them packed 150 food boxes in 90 minutes.

foodbank - sorting food

snow angels - clearing snow in our neighbourhood for seniors

tree planting in the spring and fall

river or park clean-ups

office help - one organization we support sometimes needs people to stuff envelopes or break down boxes from large giveaways.

Other things our friends with younger families do:
~ volunteer for non-profit thrift stores to sort and count game and puzzle pieces,
~ meals on wheels
~ reading buddies at a neighbourhood group or school
~ toy cleaning at toy libraries
~ helping with the garden fresh box to sort and pack
~ helping with the general maintenance and clean up of community garden space
~ helping at CSAs - maintenance, picking, packing, sorting etc

I am always grateful for the organizations that welcome the efforts of kids because there are a lot of them that unfortunately don't.
Do you have a volunteer centre in your city/town? They often have suggestions for family friendly opportunities even if they aren't posted/advertised.

hth
Karen
zeldamomma's Avatar zeldamomma 09:35 PM 02-09-2010
Our County Senior Assistance program loves to let kids decorate the bags that Meals on Wheels are delivered in, and will also let kids donate small craft items (a flag pin if a patriotic holiday is coming up, fabric flowers, Christmas ornament, etc...) that will be put in the bags.

It's easy, you can do as many or as few as you like and when we did it, all the kids really enjoyed doing it, and I understand it means a lot to the people who receive them too.
karemore's Avatar karemore 09:44 PM 02-09-2010
This isn't unique but even the youngest kids can help clean up parks and playgrounds. DD and I have often arrived a bit early for park playdates and cleaned up any litter, wiped down wet slides, removed any sharp sticks etc before other kids arrive.

At 4 1/2 DD also helped me run a booksale as part of a larger fundraiser for local organizations. Together we collected books, sorted them, set up the sale, ran the sale and then arranged for leftover books to go to local thrift stores, senior centers and shelters.

(I have always wondered about the germs at senior centers too, I'm glad someone asked!)
ocelotmom's Avatar ocelotmom 10:55 PM 02-09-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepypeanutsmom View Post
Thanks for posting this! I have an 8 year old as well and we've been looking for a volunteer opportunity that we can do together. She really wanted to work with dogs so we looked into our local animal shelter. They only accept volunteers age 11 or older (even with an adult!).

Since she really wants to work with animals I've been considering calling a dog kennel to see if they take volunteers.

I'd love to hear other ideas...
Is fostering a possibility? A homeschooling family strikes me as ideal for fostering young/sick animals that need regular care. Or raising a guide-dog puppy.
mangopassion's Avatar mangopassion 01:21 AM 02-10-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by PNCTink View Post
Well, we used to ask that if your child was sick that you not bring them in. OTOH, we tried to keep sick residents out of common areas. We always emphasized hand washing and other universal precautions (ie face masks if necessary) as well. I brought my DD to work with me one day/week for the first 18 months of her life and she never got sick. I was vigilant about handwashing, but I'm not saying that it isn't a risk. I just figured we had just as much of a chance getting sick going to the grocery store or the library. You could always call ahead too, to make sure no one is sick or the residence isn't quarantined.
Thank you so much for your response! It's very helpful.
LauraLoo's Avatar LauraLoo 01:41 AM 02-10-2010
Thank you for all the great ideas! Some of the ideas that may not be unique to you are unique to me. Maybe unique wasn't the best word to use. It's really great to have an abundance of ideas to choose from. Keep them coming!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Karenwith4 View Post
I am always grateful for the organizations that welcome the efforts of kids because there are a lot of them that unfortunately don't.
Do you have a volunteer centre in your city/town? They often have suggestions for family friendly opportunities even if they aren't posted/advertised.
Yes -- When I looked into volunteer work before, I was really surprised that there wasn't more geared towards younger children. I'd really like this to be something that my ds, dd and I can do together and that will be meaningful to all involved. I will contact the volunteer center and see if there are opportunities that aren't posted.
Village Mama's Avatar Village Mama 02:39 PM 02-10-2010
We volunteer at a community garden and sometimes help out with local trailbuilding and invasive weed removal.
One_Girl's Avatar One_Girl 03:41 PM 02-10-2010
If you have a refugee agency in your city you might consider volunteering as an English language tutor. I was able to bring my dd with me and she loved playing with other kids and talking with them while I tutored their parents. Catholic Charities also has a lot of volunteer opportunities in some cities and you don't have to be Catholic to volunteer. They may have some that are right for families to participate in. The United Way has listings of volunteer opportunities also and may have some in your area.
mrsjtc's Avatar mrsjtc 03:51 PM 02-10-2010
My dd's are 8, 6 and almost 3. We've had a great time volunteering with our library. My oldest dd goes in early on story hour days to help with set up and arranging craft projects. The librarian is incredibly nice and she loves having the extra help. We are also helping organize a fundraiser.

Another avenue that has been great for us is joining a 4H club. We've volunteered with local garden clubs - planint flower beds and weeding cemetary monuments, at nursing homes - caroling at Christmas time and bringing in handmade trinkets from the kids, as well as planting flowers at local churches. I've also found it to bea great way to expand my kids' world if that makes sense. We've had lots of opportunities to do fun things - finding out how a local company recycles old barns, care for animals and attend special classes on how to maintain their care, learning about different types of trees, birds and animals in our area, etc. It's been great o watch my kids learn about the planet around them. I think you definitely have to find a club that's right for you, though. A lot of the local clubs are all about making entries for the county fair, which is great for them, but our club is more outward focused. We've also done food drives at Thanskgiving for the last 2 years and it has really opened my girls' eyes to people who are less fortunate. (as well as the generosity of their neighbors)
maybemom05's Avatar maybemom05 06:08 PM 02-10-2010
My little guy and I are going to create some of the health care kits that are detailed on this link below (he's 4). I think it could be a pretty good project for a group as well - I've thought about making it a playgroup activity, but haven't been that organized yet!

http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/getcon...es/health-kit/

There are some other kits on this site too. I'm hoping to do the birth kits for a baby shower!!
LauraLoo's Avatar LauraLoo 03:51 PM 02-15-2010
Bumping to see if anyone else has any more great ideas!
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