Have you heard about #GivingTuesday? The idea is that we take a day after the frenzy of Black Friday (in which I do not participate) and Cyber Monday (in which I do because I can save money in my pajamas) to share our blessings with others.
I know a lot of people with very charitable hearts. Once they have kids, they want to model giving. However, they do not know how to volunteer and bring their young children along with them. Here are a few projects even very young children can do!
1. Make ornaments and bring them to a home for the elderly
2. While you are there, sing a few Holiday or winter songs
3. Decorate/write cards for someone who may need cheering up, such as children in the hospital or a deployed soldier.
4. Shop for a toy to give away. You can even shop together online if you feel your child will not be able to leave the store without a toy for himself. (There are always toy drives this time of year and I would love for you to consider giving to children on Long Island affected by Hurricane Sandy.)
5. See if your local soup kitchen is open to allowing young children to perform age-appropriate tasks like setting tables or passing out apples and bananas.
6. Get together and stuff stockings for children in need. Have each child bring 12 stocking stuffers and then stuff one of each in each stocking.
7. Donate used toys to a shelter or a police or fire department. Most places cannot accept used toys but there are a few that will. Many charities also have thrift stores they use as fundraisers.
8. Have a garage sale and donate the proceeds.
9. Bake cookies for an assisted living facility.
10. Make laminated bookmarks to thank community helpers for all they do.
11. Assemble a “cheer” pack and anonymously place on the doorstep of someone who needs cheering up in your community.
12. Assemble a “birthday in a box” or “fill a bucket” for children in shelters or in domestic abuse shelters.
13. Plant flowers at a local park or in front of a building that serves people in your community.
14. Complete a park or beach clean-up.
15. Collect children’s books and bring to a Reach Out and Read location.
16. Host a food or coat drive in front of a supermarket. Have the children make small crafts to give to people who make donations.
17. Collect pennies (see Penny Harvest for more information).
18. Walk dogs, rake leaves, or shovel snow together for someone in your neighborhood who needs the help.
19. Make dog beds or no-sew quilts for pets in shelters.
20. Participate in a charity walk, trike, or bike-athon.
21. Decorate a senior center or home for any holiday.
22. Clip coupons together and then go shopping for a food pantry — bonus in that it also teaches matching and math.
23. Kids who are able to read may be able to read to young children at a library program.
24. Stuff backpacks with school supplies for a school district with a lot of students in need.
25. Help foster a pet.
Depending on the age of the child, a lot of the volunteering work may be done by the parents but do not let that discourage you! You are creating a habit of giving.
So, what ideas did I miss? How do you involve young children in charitable projects?