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Please share ideas for how to get young kids involved in serving others.


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It is time for us (past time really) to begin showing our boys that we have a responsibility to serve and give back. I know that if I am not extremely intentional about this I can just let it slide in the name of busyness and before I know it they will be teenagers. My boys are now 8, almost 5 and 3. I want my boys to see real need and see that they can make a real difference in the lives of others.

 

If this is something you feel passionate about, what have you done to make this a reality in your family? I would love ideas as we are just starting out on this journey.

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Do you have Meals-on-Wheels in your area? We deliver meals once a month to the elderly. The kids go with me and help hand the meals to the recipients. You get a chance to converse a little and get to know them.

 

There is no cooking involved. You pick up the meals and deliver.:) This has helped my kids (and me, if I'm being honest) get over our fear? uncomfortable-ness? around older people.

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I want my boys to see real need and see that they can make a real difference in the lives of others.

 

 

 

Meals on Wheels is a great program, and sounds like it would be a good fit for your wants. It's somewhat flexible, and very hands-on. My kids turned 4 and 9 within the past few days, and have enjoyed participating in this.

 

You could also adopt a street or park, either formally (our city has a program) or informally. Set a schedule and do litter patrol - either weekly, monthly, or seasonally. It's great for all ages, and hammers home the importance of "unrecognized charity" as well as citizenship.

 

Many animal shelters have liability issues with younger kids, which makes it difficult to volunteer there ... BUT! ... we've always been well-received when we go to "visit" the pets and play with them. We always bring supplies that we've collected from the neighborhood (newspapers, used towels or baby blankets, donated food, etc) and the kids also have solicited donations from local stores (litter, food) with some success.

 

Finally, I have a longstanding "pre-kids" relationship with a homeless shelter that feeds into a school for homeless children. We solicit supplies and recruit friends to participate in postcard exchanges and the like. I also collect hotel toiletries from fellow crewmembers to send to the adults. Basically a "we're all people, regardless of our circumstances" message.

 

Probably the best thing we've done, though, was unintentional. We have an elderly woman living nearby. Her kids check on her weekly, but my 9 year old takes her trash to the curb (and brings it back up). My 4 year old fetches her mail and waters her potted plants. My husband even trims her bushes. They kids have just sort of adopted her, and we do what we can to help in between her kids' visits. It's been the most meaningful thing they've done, and I'm sure there is someone or some family near you that could benefit from the same kind of helpful attention.

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Some things we have done/ are doing as a family:

 

*Volunteer at our church's night out for parents of children with special needs - Each adult volunteer gets paired with a special needs child, children 11 and over get paired with a sibling of a special needs child, and younger children can help their parent or go to a babysitting situation that is provided. It is a wonderful ministry for parents who rarely get time off because of their child's needs, and the whole family can be involved.

 

*Volunteer for Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls - We sort shoes for their shipments. This ministry happens to be located in Dallas, but I bet you could use that as a jumping off point for ideas.

 

*Habitat for Humanity is starting a new program called Habicamp. We will be volunteering for it later this month, building playhouses for children in families purchasing Habitat Homes. This is our first time to do this, so I can't tell you how well it will go yet.

 

*Operation Christmas Child - we always make several boxes each year to send. This is something the kids "get" so they really take ownership of their boxes!

 

*Sponsor children through an organization like World Vision or Compassion International. Corresponding with them really helps the kids see how their giving directly helps another person.

 

*Along with some other friends, we set up a "Meet the Future Mayor" picnic in our neighborhood last year. While the neighbors met and questioned the candidates, we served up hot dogs and lemonade.

 

*Assemble kits for the homeless to keep in our cars and hand out as needed. (Got this idea here.

 

*Collect food for the community's annual Scare Away Hunger food drive (coming up this month obviously!)

 

That's it for now. If I think of some other things I'll let you know.

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Guest Alte Veste Academy
If this is something you feel passionate about, what have you done to make this a reality in your family? I would love ideas as we are just starting out on this journey.

 

What a great question! I hope to get some ideas for the future.

 

For the past few years, we have picked a family just like ours from the Salvation Army tree. I remember the first year we did it, the woman sadly told me she could find any combination of kids and ages. So, we find a family that's boy, girl, boy, same ages as my kids. Then we scheme and plan and buy their gifts and wrap them all together. In addition to the resquested items (which are sadly usually clothes and other useful items--I mean, it's great but sad, you know?), each child also picks something that has been a favorite for them to buy new for their matching child. Each child also gives a copy of his/her favorite book. We all deliver them to the Salvation Army together. We love, love, love this.

 

In the future, since I'm a quilter and the kids seem to be interested, I think we'll also do Project Linus.

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If we are blowing leaves off our driveway, we will just go and blow them off the neighbor's driveway too.

I remind them to bring back the neighbor's garbage can from the curb when they get ours.

We do other bigger projects with our church group, but I like to remind them to just be helpful if they see a need.

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Deliver meals/help you make cookies for meals

 

Visit elderly in your neighborhood

 

Visit nursing homes

 

Help with tutoring/making tutoring materials/passing out materials in tutoring class

 

Here's a thread on how to tutor as a family

 

and my how to tutor page has instructions on how I taught a group of inner city children with the help of volunteers from my church

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Be a role model. If parents are serving their community, their children should follow and feel the same social responsibilities.

 

Like Amy, we do things together as a family. All of us volunteer with a bird rehabilitator, but it began with me volunteering. My son was the next to step to the plate and now my husband is a critical member of the rehab team as well.

 

Our 4-H organization sponsors numerous community service projects. Some are simple (making greeting card for veterans--by the way, any vet hospital would be happy to receive these); others involve orchestrated groups efforts.

 

I like the idea of giving neighbors a hand. Bake muffins for a neighbor who is embarking on a long road trip to visit family or make chicken soup when a neighbor is under the weather.

 

One of the terrific projects my church youth group did one winter was forcing paper white bulbs. The children had a small science project and then distributed the blooms to shut ins. This was fun!

 

So much to do, really.

 

Best regards,

Jane

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At the young age of your children, I'd prefer the helping neighbors as a family. Do you have elderly neighbors that would really appreciate bringing back the trash can, raking leaves, etc?

 

Your example would be the greatest influence, I think. At their ages, I was volunteering at an outreach program where they could come along and "play" with the children while I cooked and served food.

 

Meals on Wheels or a nursing home seems age appropriate.

 

I am so blessed that my dc have all volunteered regularly at this point and we believe it started by our example more than anything. Best wishes. You got some great ideas from the other posters.

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We read the Miller's Missionary book, and dd decided to use a dollar bill as a bookmark for it--we are going to send it in to a bible society as a donation when we are done. Because we get VOM materials and our assistant's husband (assistant at church, I mean) works with the persecuted church, we feel an extra sensitivity to that ministry. We are going to send some support letters to some of the religious prisoners via the VOM website--you pick phrases in their language on the site, print out and mail the letters...

 

Dd is also studying Africa on Fridays this year, and will be making moss gardens to sell at our Christmas Mart at church (God willing and we get it done! lol) to raise money for The Chain Foundation, which is patronized by the Archbishop Emeritus of Uganda, Bishop "Livingstone"--I can't spell his last name and don't have time to look it up! :D They have a boarding and a day school for orphans and those kids whose families need help.

 

Anyway, she is developing a heart for overseas missions, children, animals--these are small ways to help her do what she can to help as a 9yo.

Oh, and Operation Christmas Child is on the agenda this year, too!

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We "adopted" a single woman in our church. She has some disabilities and had recently lost both parents. We visit her weekly. Sometimes we just spend time talking or playing games. Sometimes we do more like help put up holiday decorations, run errands or do fix-it stuff around her home. Having a family has made such a difference to her. It's been neat to watch the relationship grow between her and my children. My children have learned that we have responsibility to care for each other and that each of them can make a difference. It's been a great experience.

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Wanted to add that I believe it starts in the family, really. Taking your plate AND your brothers out after eating; working to clean up a mess, even if you didn't do it, etc. Learning to serve your parents and your siblings, and accepting service, too, can help you branch out to others.

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