Looking for something great to do with the kids this year? Did you know charitable work is good for your family, both as individuals and as a group? Here are the why’s and how’s of getting involved as volunteers.
As individuals, your family members will benefit from:
Clean living. Some studies show that youth who volunteer are half as likely to abuse drugs, alcohol or cigarettes. They are also less apt to participate in destructive behavior or become pregnant.
Improved performance. Children involved with charities are more likely to perform well in school and more likely to graduate. They are also more apt to vote, embrace a strong work ethic and participate in service-oriented activities as adults.
Job skills. Volunteering offers children an opportunity to engage in a work-like environment, helping to prepare them for future employment. As explained by the American Foundation for the Blind, youth learn to keep their commitments, work with a supervisor, receive feedback, achieve goals and meet deadlines.
Improved health. According to some research, youth who volunteer are more apt to have good cholesterol screenings and lose weight. Adults who volunteer experience improvements in memory, stamina, flexibility and reduced depression. Adults are also less apt to experience hospital stays than non-volunteers and are more inclined to take better care of their health with routine tests such as mammograms, prostate exams and cholesterol screenings. Volunteering is shown to add years to your life.
Well-being. Adults enjoy better social engagement as volunteers, and research reflects charitable work adds to their sense of purpose in life. They experience improved self-esteem, feel more life satisfaction, have an enhanced sense of control over life, and are happier overall.
As a unit, families will benefit by:
Working together. Psych Central notes that when families volunteer, they work side-by-side, fostering more of a team spirit. They are more inclined to communicate with each other, since the work typically keeps everyone off electronic devices and focused on a joint activity. While volunteering, the family is likely to enjoy talking, laughing and problem-solving.
Improved understanding. Children don’t see what their parents do at their day jobs, so those activities can seem vague and mysterious. Performing work-like tasks with your children enhances their understanding of what you do. Similarly, adults rarely see their children in a classroom setting, so working with their children helps them to grasp how the kids perform in an environment outside of home.
How to Volunteer
Ideas for getting started:
Declutter. Go through the home and glean items that are gently used. The family can pitch in, finding things of their own to pass on to a charity. As Redfin notes, this is a great way to not only do something outside of yourself, but also organize your home.
Walk. Some experts note that children as young as 5 can participate in charity walks. It’s a great way to do something together and get some exercise.
Craft. Decorate shoeboxes with your children and have them help select puzzles, storybooks and small toys to deliver to children in the hospital.
Shelter. Check in with a local animal rescue or shelter to find out how you and your children can help tend abandoned pets.
Drive. Offer to deliver meals to elderly homebound residents. Your children can help, bringing food and smiles to the shut-ins.
Shop. Each time you and the kids go to the grocery, ask them to select an item to donate. When you fill a bag, they can go with you to deliver it to the local food pantry.
Volunteering is a big boon! It turns out the benefits of volunteering go beyond providing basic service to your community. Volunteering is a boon to every member of your family while enhancing your family bond. Find ways to get engaged this year, and you’ll see everyone will benefit.
Blog Post Written By Guest Writer: Amanda Henderson