For the last 30 years, communities nationwide have gathered for National Family Volunteer Day on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to introduce children to volunteering and teach them valuable lessons about compassion and caring.
This year, the needs are greater than ever before – and families are looking for ways to keep kids engaged in their community while observing safe behaviors during a pandemic. Here are 6 ideas to get you started:
- Make origami cranes. Inspired by the global Peace Crane project, United Way of Rhode Island is inviting families to write their hopes and dreams for the state on origami paper fashioned into cranes.
- Ensure other families have enough to eat. Demand at food banks has gone up during the economic downturn. Find a food pantry you want to support and consider hosting a food drive or fundraiser. Kids can ask for donations, for example, based on the number of times they circle the block in an hour.
- Create personal care kits for individuals who are homeless or in transition. With your family, make a list of 5-6 things individuals might like to have (e.g., hand sanitizer, mask, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste), purchase materials and assemble, along with an encouraging note tucked inside. Kits can come in drawstring bags or creatively decorated shoeboxes. Shelters and other social service organizations can make sure the kits go to the people who need them the most.
- Brighten a senior’s day. Families members can each write a letter, poem, or create a drawing to send to someone in need or share their talents by recording a video of themselves playing or singing a song. All these can be sent to residents at local memory care facilities, senior centers, or hospice, to bright their day and aid with memory recall.
- Keep neighborhoods clean. Families can make an immediate difference by spending a few hours picking up trash (with washable or disposable gloves on) in a neglected area.
- Prepare for emergencies. United Ways in Billings, MT and Pittsburgh, PA will engage families to discuss emergency preparedness and create Emergency Preparedness Starter Kits for isolated seniors. Consider asking a neighbor how you can help them prepare for or respond to an emergency – ideas available through Ready.
Looking for another family-friendly volunteer opportunity? Your local United Way can help connect you to activities now and throughout the year.
Although volunteering may look different this year, there are still so many ways to give back. Take time out with your family this season to help others and make a positive mark on the world.