The world needs you: Transform your kid to a volunteer!

Everyone for the most part agrees that charitable work is a good thing. Maybe with a few exceptions, most people think that helping other people in need is a powerful way to give back to our communities. But the truth is that only 25.3% of people in the US volunteer their time or skills. In fact, according to a survey by the United States Department of Labor volunteering in the US has been declining for more than a decade now. Click To Tweet There are mixed opinions out there as of why this trend keeps going the way it is. But regardless of the root of the problem, the numbers keep going down.

That is why we at Saving For Hope had decided to write about the benefits of volunteering and giving back to our communities. Of course, there is a difference between charitable work and charitable giving. Charitable giving commonly involves either money, food or items like toys, or clothing. But as good and beneficial as this type of giving is, it could keep people isolated and not engaged (especially teens and kids). This type of ‘giving’ is usually augmented during holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. People go to their pantries, for example, and give food or donate a few dollars into those ‘red buckets’ on the entrance of major stores. These are not terrible actions, but if the intention behind them is not understood correctly, this type of giving could fall into a self-gratification action instead of giving ‘from the heart’. Thankfully, most people give with their heart in the right place.

But there is a more effective way to give back. Charitable work, for example, involves peoples to the needs at a deeper level. It is not the same to give a few cans of food to a food pantry, then to go and feed homeless people first hand. There is a powerful connection that happens between the need, the volunteer and the results when you are physically present.

There are many benefits to volunteering and getting engaged in charitable work. There are sociological, psychological, physical, and not to mention spiritual benefits. These is even more accentuated on teens and kids. Studies had shown that kids and teens that volunteer are less likely to become pregnant or to use drugs. Teens and kids that engage in charitable work are more likely to have positive academic, psychological, and occupational well-being.

The question is: how are you modeling this type of charitable giving to the little one in your life? Is a question that every parent, aunt, grandpa, etc. should ask themselves. IF you, like us here at Saving For Hope, are convinced that getting kids tangled in charitable work is important, read on.

Here are a few tips to help you get the little ones in your life engaged with your communities:

Model what you want them to do: The myth is true, kids do learn from example! If you are expecting the little ones to learn how to volunteer when they are adults, you need to get out there with them now. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be to get them going. The world needs as many hands as possible.

Find a local nonprofit organization in your community: do you have something that you are passionate about? Does your kid have something they are passionate about? Maybe animals, recycling, or helping people with mental disabilities, or single moms, or even teaching immigrants! Find a place where you can volunteer that does what you are passionate about. This is the best way to stay connected longer and more consistently. Need help finding ones on various categories? Click HERE.

Do not try to ‘fix the problem’ the first time: Please, understand that some issues, like homelessness and poverty, are systematic problems that need many resources and even legislation. Do not be the ‘hero’ that goes out there and ‘solves’ problems like homelessness with a bag of food in one day. Explain to your kids the importance of volunteering, and the reason why those problems exist. Tell them that the problem might be there for a while, but even so, every bit we do to help counts towards unraveling the problem.

Find activities that are age and gender appropriate: Most parents do consider doing work that is age and gender appropriate. But if you are an uncle or a grandma just keep that in mind as you find places to take the little ones to help your community. I would not take my daughter, for example, to volunteer at a local jail. But I could take her to volunteer to a food bank, or a pet shelter.

Use their skills for good: Think also about skills your little ones might have and use that to get them engaged. If your teen likes to paint and draw, for example, you could get them hooked with habitat for humanity painting homes and redecorating rooms, etc. If your teen likes the outdoors, go and volunteer cleaning a river or the ocean. I remember a few years back; my family and I volunteered at a local park cleaning a river and they gave us canoes to go and clean! It was super fun, and we got to canoe all day for free! If your kid has a natural ability, use it!

There you have it! a few tips to get you hooked on charitable work. This is another way to be good stewards of both the time and the resources that we have. Volunteering is very helpful financially as well, since it allows to teach kids about priorities and opportunities. Also, charitable giving and charitable work help alleviate deep rooted problems like the poverty cycle. The world could use a few more ‘little hands’ to become a better place! Enjoy!

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