Family Friendly Volunteering

volunteeringWhen you can’t always afford to pay for family fun, you can make your own by volunteering!

How Can Volunteering Be Fun?

First of all, helping others often puts things in perspective. Benefiting people or even animals that are not as fortunate as you are can make anyone appreciate all that they have. Often it forces even children to look around and start enjoying the blessings they already experience.

Volunteering really makes us feel good. It is fun in itself. Studies have shown that people who volunteer tend to me more joyful and happier in life. Isn’ t that a wonderful and free way to keep your family happy? Doing good is good for the spirit.

Extra Fun and Benefits of Volunteering

While no one volunteers with an ulterior motive, volunteering may carry extra benefits as well. For example, if your family volunteers at a zoo or museum, you may be entitled to a free family membership. If you volunteer for the church or school bake sale, you may be asked to take home the extra goodies that don’t sell. Volunteer to help repair a home, and a sponsor may reward you with a free gift card or a ticket to a local game. Offer to shelve books at the library, and you may have first pick at retired books and magazines for free. You can also set your own tradition, such as going out for ice cream after your session or event. These little rewards may help reinforce the fun of volunteering for kids.

Finding Fun Places for Families

Some volunteer jobs are more fun than others, especially for kids. Safety concerns can also be an issue. Here are some family friendly volunteer opportunities. To find more, do your research, talk to people in your community and register with a volunteer website or organization.

Animal Shelters

Kids love animals. Animal shelters will generally take anyone older than six with supervision to help out by feeding, playing with, walking or petting shelter animals, or helping with adoptions. Are the kids too young or allergic to volunteer directly with the dogs and cats? Offer to do some marketing, organize an adoption event, hold your own lemonade stand or bake sale for fundraising or find other ways to support the shelter.

Book Drives

Collect gently used books, CDs and DVD and then donate them to a school, a hospital or a family shelter. Concentrate on children’s books when you have kids involved.

Holiday Decorating

Hospitals, shelters and nursing homes would all be thrilled to have a family come in and decorate for the holidays. Perk up the atmosphere for the the residents. You can collect donated decorations, make your own, go shopping for some or do all three. Then coordinate with the managers and pick a date.

Cheer up Your Elders

Whether at a nursing home or in the neighborhood, many elders love to make new friends with families and share all of their wonderful stories. Children are especially welcome, although some facilities may put limits for children during the worst of the flu season for health reasons.

Outside Clean up

See if your town sponsors a park or town clean up day. Everyone is welcome! No clean up day? Create your own or check with a local church or civic center to find out if there are any households who could use an extra hand with outside maintenance. Older people, or those fighting illness or disease or a difficult situation may welcome the help from every member of your family.