November always brings a sense of gratitude, appreciation and the desire to want to help out our fellow man. As Thanksgiving lingers on the horizon and other festive holidays to follow, this might be a good time of year to teach your children what exactly it means to give back. Also, it helps them learn what it truly means to be grateful for what they have. Volunteering as a family can be not only rewarding but is also a much-needed thing in so many communities. Here are a few ideas for volunteer opportunities for families to give back this November and into the new year:
Help Out At a Soup Kitchen
A simple internet search can provide you with an idea of where the closest soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or other organization that offers free meals to the less fortunate are located. Once you map out where you want to go, give them a call to find out the specifications for volunteering. Typically, once you line up a day to go and help out the rest is pretty simple.
Volunteers are often put to work helping prepare simple foods, washing dishes/utensils, cleaning areas used during the preparation or after the meal is served, or serving individuals when they come in. Children can be put to work with simpler tasks such as setting tables or sweeping floors. If you show up ready to work, and willing to help wherever it is most needed you will be welcomed. There is nothing more rewarding than giving a hungry person a meal that they might not be able to get elsewhere!
Visit a Nursing Home
Again, a simple internet search can put you on the path of this volunteer opportunity. Once you find a local home for the elderly, call them to talk about stopping by for a visit. It may not even hurt to swing by beforehand for a quick visit and tour of the property. During this time, you can also discuss the opportunities they have for volunteers. Often times, many nursing homes welcome visitors to stop by and spend some time with their clients. Some things you might do as a volunteer: play board games with residents, read a book or watch a movie with them, or just simply sit and talk to them.
Many residents either live far away from their family or don’t have anyone special that comes to visit them regularly, so they really enjoy having the company. Volunteers often form some amazing bonds from this type of opportunity. This type of volunteer work is not only easy to coordinate, but it will definitely leave you with a smile on your face and a warm heart.
Give Some Homeless Animals Some Love
Most animals shelters have programs in place for volunteers. They accept help walking dogs, socializing with animals that are up for adoption, and cleaning up around the shelter. Bringing your kids can really give them some insight into what it means to take care of animals. They will likely enjoy getting to know some furry friends as well. If time is an issue, bring your kids down to your local department store and purchase some much-needed food, litter, bedding or toys for the pets currently living in the shelters. Bring the family to the shelter to drop off anything you are able to donate. Who knows maybe you will even leave with a new family member along the way?
Put In Some Time For Local Veterans
Since November also brings Veteran’s Day, another idea would be to volunteer for any local Veteran’s organizations. Some organizations that accept volunteers are the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Disabled American Veterans. You can check out their volunteer pages and find local points of contact. Most organizations are always looking for help getting veterans to and from doctor’s appointments, making meals for vets, preparing food baskets for the holidays, mentor children of veterans in areas you specialize in or helping out at local veteran-related events. There are many opportunities that your family can contribute to in an effort to support our nation’s veterans.
Some other ideas for volunteer opportunities for families: reach out to your child’s school to see if they have any volunteer opportunities such as fundraising events or school functions, ask the local Red Cross if there is anything you and your kids can do to help out in your area, or sign up to volunteer at a community event in your area (Special Olympics, Relay for Life, fundraiser for someone in need, etc.). No matter what route you go down as a family to volunteer, you will all leave with feelings of gratitude, pride and knowing that you all just made another person’s day just a little bit better than it was before.