Let's Volunteer: Family Philanthropy

Involving your child in charity will help the community and teach her an important lesson -- and it lets you spend more time together.

Finding Ways to Volunteer Together

Making time to do volunteer work is important, but it's always hard to find the time. The easiest way to make it a priority is to get your child involved -- you'll bond as you help out in the community. If you already have a cause that your family cares about, find a way to include your child. He can help you plant trees in a local park or hand out water at a 5K race. If your child has a talent or an interest, brainstorm a way to use it: Could her dance class perform their routine at the nursing home? Thinking small can also have a big impact: Walking your elderly neighbor's dog will make a difference in his life. Through volunteering, your child will learn an important lesson about helping others.

10 Fun Volunteering Ideas

  • If you don't have a favorite charity or cause, hang on to this clip-and-save list of easy ways to give back with your child.
  • Collect canned goods or clothes for a local group or shelter.
  • Make cookies for a bake sale.
  • Pick up litter in your neighborhood park or playground.
  • Set up a lemonade stand to benefit our troops or a local hospital.
  • For her next birthday party, ask for donations instead of gifts, or donate a few of her old toys together before the celebration.
  • Do yard work, go grocery shopping, or bring the garbage cans in from the curb for an elderly neighbor.
  • Hand out flyers or stuff and stamp envelopes for an event in your area.
  • Collect books for your local library's book drive.
  • Raise money to fight a disease that has affected a family member or friend.

Need to find a charity to donate your time or money to? Check out charitynavigator.org. The site has an excellent rating system, and you can easily find local and national groups by cause.

Originally published in the July 2008 issue of Parents magazine.

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