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Kids doing volunteer work Kids doing volunteer work

One family's tips for creating a charitable child

One family's tips for creating a charitable child

The Accardo family from Queens, New York, makes it their business to help others, whether serving dinner at a soup kitchen, visiting a nursing home or joining a walkathon against cancer.

Lucy Accardo instilled a sense of service in her four children — ages 11 to 18 — and sought out projects that involve young volunteers. She offers this advice to parents on how to get started with your kids:

Lucy with family Lucy Accardo (on right, in peach shirt) and some of her family members volunteer at the New York City Rescue Mission. (Photo courtesy of Lucy Accardo)

1. Get going!

Start looking for opportunities to get involved. Local houses of worship often need help with food drives, blood drives and other initiatives. Ask your kids’ school about holding a fundraiser for a worthy cause. Or join AmeriCorps, the volunteer program offered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. By setting up an account at, you can search projects in your area that meet your interests.

2. Take advantage of social media

Your tech-savvy kids can use their phones and tablets for something other than selfies. Encourage them to create a GoFundMe account for a worthy cause, or launch a Facebook page to enlist help for a community project.

3. Find out your children’s passions

Kids will be more interested in volunteering to a cause that’s dear to their heart. Animal lovers may be thrilled to help out at a humane shelter, for example.

4. Let them use their talents

“Moms can help their kids get involved in a way that interests them, whether it’s with sports, music, or something else,” says Accardo. Your budding Top Chef can create cupcakes for a bake sale, and your young athlete may enjoy joining a bikeathon. There are even school math-a-thons that let kids turn their knowledge of geometry and fractions into cash for those in need.

kids picking up trash Kids will be more interested in volunteering for a cause that’s important to them. Eco-conscious kids might be up for a community clean-up project. (Photo:

5. Set a good example

If your children see you getting involved in service work, they’ll be more likely to want to do the same. Even small children will get the picture if you explain what you’re doing and why.

6. Consider dishing up kindness

We often think of soup kitchen volunteering as something to do during the holidays, but these pantries need help all year long. Teens and preteens can help during busy mealtimes by handing out food trays, pouring water, and keeping track of how many meals have been served.

Top Image Credit: Rawpixel/iStock

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