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:
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 my.americorps.gov, you can search projects in your area that meet your interests.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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