One of the best ways to to teach kids—no matter how young—to be thankful for what they have is by showing them how to give back. Here are a few tips to do just that this national volunteer week:1. Make Mask Straps for Kids at St. Jude Children’s Hospital
Some kids at St. Jude Children’s Hospital wear masks to prevent others from getting sick. The elastic mask straps aren’t very comfortable, and the hospital needs help making softer ones out of flannel and fleece. To make cool mask straps with your kids, follow the directions on the St. Jude website.
2. Volunteer with Meals On Wheels
Everyone loves to eat, but some people have difficulty getting the food they need. Meals on Wheels relies on volunteers to deliver food to seniors and people with disabilities. Volunteering with Meals on Wheels will not only teach your kids about the importance of nutrition, but also about how just a small amount of time can have a huge impact on those in need.
3. Give Back with Toys for Tots
For many kids, the holidays mean one thing: presents. Some families, however, can’t afford to buy their kids toys during the holidays. With your help, Toys for Tots will make sure those kids get presents, too. When doing your holiday shopping, encourage your kids to pick out a few toys they’d like to give away, then head to your local Toys for Tots location to drop them off.
4. Clean Up Time at the Park
The earth needs to stay clean to feel healthy, and there are tons of ways kids can do their part to help! Put on some gloves and head to your local park. During playtime, encourage your kids to pick up and throw away any (safe) litter they see on the ground. This is a great opportunity to teach kids to recycle as well.
5. Say Thank You with a Nice Letter
Each and every day, thousands of men and women work to protect and serve our country. Have your kids draw pictures or write letters to people in the military to let them know they’re appreciated! If your younger kids want to try writing a letter, make sure to keep the CogniToys Dino close by—the cute and curious Dino can help spell any word, from “thanks” to “gratitude.”
6. Make a Storytime Rug
Is there any better feeling than cozying up with a good book? Reach Out and Read creates centers to encourage families to read aloud together and make reading a part of pediatric care. To help out, make a few storytime rugs with your kids for the organization’s reading centers.
7. Swim for a Cause
From pool noodle wars to marco polo, it didn’t get much better than a trip to the local YMCA pool. Help your kids turn their next swimming session into a good deed by participating in the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) Swim for a Cause program. To get started, all you have to do is:
- Create your own swim activity
- Set a challenge goal
- Recruit friends and family to donate
Animal shelters are always looking for a little extra help around the holidays. To help generate interest for their Cat Friday adoption event, for example, the ASPCA often takes photos of the cats in festive, handcrafted seasonal collars. Simply buy a pack of loosely fitting hair elastics and tie 9 inch strips of ribbon all the way around each one.
9. Donate a Coat to Create that Warm and Fuzzy Feeling
Remind your kids that not everyone is lucky enough have a jacket to keep warm when they go outside. Then, task them to find all the jackets and coats they’ve outgrown. You can donate these as a family to a local coat drive through organizations such as New York Cares.
While National Volunteer Week is an awesome time to start teaching your kids about giving back, these activities are great choices to try all year round. No matter which you choose, your kids are sure to remember how good it felt to make others happy for years to come. And who knows, maybe giving back will become a regular part of their routine!