Getting Your Family Willing and Ready to Volunteer This Summer

Guest Blog by Paul Denikin
Copyright © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Paul Denikin is the author of the blog site Dad Knows DIY. Paul’s Do It Yourself journey started with the birth of Maggie, his second child, who has special needs.

Taking your family to a movie or out to dinner is one way to spend time together. However, if you’re looking for an activity that allows your family to connect and offers a rewarding experience, consider volunteering together. Whether you clean up a highway or visit a nursing home, volunteering as a family is a great summer activity.

Choosing What to Do

Volunteering as a family teaches younger children and teens about the importance of giving back to their community. Through volunteering, your children create positive, meaningful relationships in their neighborhood. The volunteering opportunity doesn’t have to involve just you and your kids. Invite grandparents, cousins, and aunts to join in. Some opportunities could even involve your pet.

Sit down with your family to pitch ideas on where everyone would like to help out. Discuss causes or events that interest them or mean something to everyone involved. “The more the family is amped up about a cause, the more rewarding the experience will be,” suggests Create the Good. If you need help brainstorming, their site is full of inspiration, project guides, and existing opportunities.

Figure out how much time everyone can put into the project. Trying to coordinate the schedules of an entire family can be difficult, but many projects or organizations have evening or weekend opportunities. Once you agree on a cause and the amount of time you’re able to dedicate, find what fits the bill.

Where to Look for Opportunities    

Your community is likely to have ample volunteer opportunities. Contact nursing homes, hospitals, animal shelters, or homeless shelters directly to inquire about volunteer opportunities. You can also contact organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Red Cross, or the YMCA to find out about opportunities in your local area.

Utilize sites that are designed to help you find volunteer work . Many volunteer search sites provide a filter when searching that shows projects appropriate for the whole family. For example, has a “Kids” and a “55+” filter. Other sites focus specifically on volunteering as a group, such as such as Doing Good Together.

Getting Younger Children Involved

Some opportunities will have an age restriction. If you come across this, contact the organization to find out if there is another way younger ones can help. For example, a homeless shelter may require volunteers to be over the age of 12 to serve food at their location. However, they may allow your family to make food in bulk at home to drop off. If this is the case, younger children can help prepare and drop off the food.

Children can get involved in their community and learn the value of volunteering at any age through donating their gently used clothes, toys, and books. When sorting their items, discuss what it means to donate their items and how another child’s life can be improved. You can even help them organize their own book, toy, or school supply drive.

Getting Teens Involved

Some teens may be excited to sign up for volunteer work without much convincing. Others may need a little inspiration. The most obvious motivating tool is to remind your teen that colleges look for volunteer work on applications. Likewise, when students graduate and lack work experience, volunteer work can be a great boost for a resume.

When you speak with them about volunteering, help them to understand the real impact of what they’re doing. “Try to explain to them the weight of what they’re about to do and how they can make a difference in the world,” recommends For example, if you’re spending time at an animal shelter, tell your teen that for some animals, that may be the only human touch they receive all day or even all week.

Allow your teens the chance to choose how they volunteer their time. No one likes being forced to do something, so having a choice of when and where they volunteer makes it more enjoyable. Lead by example. You certainly cannot ask your teen to volunteer if you’re not sharing your time as well.

Life gets hectic, and sometimes spending time with each other as a family gets put on the back burner. Volunteering together is a great way to make time for each other. You’ll also improve the lives of other families while you help your children develop life skills and become well-rounded individuals.