Volunteer Opportunities for Kids: Teaching Your Children Empathy Through Social Service

Although children are developmentally ego-centric from a young age, they have the capacity to develop such compassion and generosity. As parents, it is our job to help nurture the development of our children’s character. Positive character traits, such as respect, responsibility, generosity, perseverance, etc., can be learned and fostered through social service projects, so take some time to look into local volunteer opportunities for kids.

It is never too early to involve your children in a project that allows them to give back to the family and/or community. Some projects are ongoing throughout the year, such as volunteering at a food pantry, whereas others are more seasonal, such as Toys for Tots (which is during the holiday season). Many schools organize projects throughout the school year that allow all students to be involved. However, families can coordinate their own efforts at home as well. The following is a list of volunteer opportunities for kids in which you and your children can be involved:

Volunteering to donate to and/or work in food pantries and soup kitchens – Food pantries and soup kitchens are hard-pressed for food donations in this economy. By volunteering to serve in a soup kitchen, children view first-hand how others are in need.

Donating to local thrift shops – Children can be involved in collecting clothes, toys, and other items to donate to thrift shops. The act of donating their own belongings opens up discussion about children who are in need and allows them to empathize with others.

Writing to soldiers & sending care packages to the troops – Many schools choose to have their students write letters and draw pictures to send to troops around Veterans Day. Children can do this outside of school as well. Children can thank soldiers for their service, draw pictures, and even send a care package.

Donating to animal shelters – Animal shelters are always in need of food, toys, blankets, and other pet care items. Children love animals and become very motivated to care for them if they see how they are in need. Plan a trip to a local shelter so they can see first-hand how their donations will help.

Collecting donations for charities, particularly those that help children (i.e. Pennies for Patients, Coins for a Cure) – The empathy and compassion that children feel for others who are ill, particularly other children, is heartwarming. As most people do, children feel powerless over the health of others; however, they can certainly feel some control through contributing to research and treatment.

Visiting the elderly – There are many elderly people within nursing homes who love to spend time with children. Playing a game or having a quick conversation can do wonders for lifting the spirits of someone who doesn’t have many visitors or who isn’t able to leave the nursing home often.

The list of volunteer opportunities for kids and social service projects can go on and on. There is no end to opening your heart and showing compassion and generosity to others. Everyone benefits! Ultimately, your children’s character will strengthen and he/she will be more likely to continue giving back throughout their life.

Kim is a guest blogger from Tidbits From A Mom. In exchange for sharing this content, the Allstate Community has compensated her via cash payment.