Five Ways to Volunteer With Young Children

Is one of your family’s New Year’s resolutions to make a habit of paying it forward? Not only does volunteerism help to foster empathy and compassion in children but it also gives them ties to community and a self-esteem boost. Think of how rewarding it feels when you do a good deed for someone else. What a great gift to give to your child!

Here are some ways to give back this holiday season and beyond:

  • Rescue Missions – There are rescue missions throughout Los Angeles County that need volunteers and support. Ideas: Deliver items that the mission may need and have your child come with you to deliver. Even if they are just watching you do a kind deed, they are learning. Some volunteer jobs, like packing groceries and clothing items, are easier for young children to help with. Some missions may even allow your children to play with the kids who live there. During the holidays, you may also sign up to participate in a meal program. Here are a few local missions and rescue centers:
  • Animal Shelters – Visit the animals at your local shelter and drop off items that the shelter may need, such as canned cat food, paper towels, food bowls, blankets and bedding, and newspapers. Some shelters have special rooms where visitors can interact with and play with the animals or allow you to help with dog walks.
  • Nursing Homes – Bring your child to a local nursing home or assisted living facility to visit with the guests. Is your child learning to read? Have them practice by reading a book to the guests. Is your child a talented dancer or singer, or learning an instrument? Ask the facility if your child can share their skills. Bringing notes and cards is also a nice gesture to let those living in the home know that they are remembered and cared for. Tip: Check out the unique “Mommy and Me” class called Tots 2 Seniors for children ages 1–3 that takes place in assisted living communities in Beverly Hills. Children get the opportunity to interact with one another and seniors in the same environment. It’s a great opportunity for multigenerational learning. Visit www.tots2seniors.com for details.
  • Help the Environment – Participate in a beach cleanup with Heal the Bay or another local organization. There are also cleanups throughout the year for the L.A. River. Remember to wear protective gear, including sunscreen, and to pack some snacks.
  • Be a Good Neighbor – You don’t even have to leave your neighborhood to spread kindness. Do you have a neighbor who lives alone? Bake some cookies with your child and deliver with a kind note. Help out with a chore, like walking a dog or doing some yard work. Have a garden? Share the bounty with those who live close by. Organize a children’s clothing swap with your neighbors when the kids grow in size — you can do a toy swap too! Sharing is caring.
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