Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “everybody can be great because anybody can serve,” and that applies to kids as well. No matter their age, your community’s children can get involved and do good.
Our kids really are the future—and the present is the perfect time to instill the importance of service while cultivating the volunteers of tomorrow.
Helping kids in the hospital One of the best ways for instilling the importance of service is by encouraging kids to get involved with children who are in the hospital. It will show them how much a little help from a peer can mean—and they may make a new friend!
First, ask the staff at your local hospital which items need most for a waiting room or to give to young patients. Then choose an approach:
- The best medicine—Help the kids build Funny Books, complete with their favorite jokes, stories and animals (real or imagined!). Then encourage them to illustrate the pages before binding them and hand delivering them.
- Get crafty—Make some handmade cards for birthdays, holidays or just a hello. Bust out the glitter and macaroni, and make them interactive. You can even recycle the jokes from the Funny Books, just like any good comedian! These cards are sure to help make the kids in the hospital feel special—and the crafters may learn a few things about creativity.
- Warm up someone’s day—Help your community’s children transform into “blanketeers” by making new, washable blankets that Project Linus gives as gifts. You can send any size or style.
- Music to their ears—Deliver a personalized, uplifting song through the Songs of Love Foundation, which has created custom songs for more than 25,000 kids free of charge. Take some time to visit a child in the hospital and ask about her or his hobbies, interests, pets and types of music.
From generation to generation Kids really are bundles of joy—so why not share some of that with your local elders? It’s a proven way to spread the happiness that kids naturally carry.
Ask a local assisted living home about throwing a party in their largest space. Bring a group of young children with you to sing, dance, play games or clown around (literally—dress up as clowns). Then share smiles with the residents. Kids can also craft, cook or listen to a story from an elder, creating a remarkable bond between generations.
If you don’t have such a home near you or an elderly neighbor who wants to participate, become a family full of Senior Angels. Your letters will create a lasting connection with an elder who’s farther away, and your community’s kids can keep Hungry for more?
Superheroes of safety
Transform the mild-mannered munchkins around you into budding heroes and heroines that protect neighbors. One of the easiest ways is by helping their neighbors prepare for emergencies: Kids can help make grab-and-go kits, copy important papers and prepare evacuation plans. Also try checking on elderly neighbors during extreme heat. Carry plenty of water and make sure everyone has what they need to stay cool!
Whether or not they’re in costume, these community champions can make their neighborhood safer and friendlier for walkers by doing street and sidewalk surveys. They’re rewarding, and you can easily turn them into games. Carry some sidewalk chalk with you and turn your time around the block into some impromptu hopscotch!
Safe, walkable streets promote meaningful participation in community life, and your community’s children will surely appreciate it when they’re older.
Helping four-legged friends
Ever notice how babies can’t stop staring at dogs on the street and how much puppies love the little ones? It’s because kids and animals are a perfect match—so why not make the most of the connection to do good in your community?
Teens can help at animal shelters or the Humane Society in many ways. They can earn titles such as Kennel Helper, Photographer, Fundraising Idea Generator, Event Coordination Assistant, Flyer Distributor, Adoption Ambassador (showcasing animals in surrounding areas to attract potential adopters) or Crafter (making “no-sew” blankets or toys). Enlist the younger kids in your community to create nametags with the volunteers’ titles on them.
No time like the present
Help kids start their service now, and you’ll see the results as they grow. Find a volunteer opportunity near you to get started.
Hungry for more?
Kids can present their artistic skills to a new, appreciative audience by decorating lunch bags for Meals on Wheels recipients. The reactions are priceless and the possibilities are endless: Draw, paint, write, ink/stamp or attach popsicle sticks, puffs, bracelets, photos, cards and more!
Teach kids the power of leadership and coming together by helping them organize their own fundraisers or collection drives. They can brainstorm about who to help and then pick an idea that fits their passion. For example, they could hold a school supply drive, collect books or toys or hold a food drive for your local food bank.