Volunteering as a family is a concrete way to apply and demonstrate shared values and beliefs while making a positive impact on your world (Ameri Corps, 2020). Families who volunteer have the unique experience of working together toward a shared goal, most often for the benefit of others. Quality time spent together while volunteering can promote openness and understanding between parents and children and may serve as a catalyst for meaningful conversations. Volunteering can also draw family members closer together, forge new bonds through shared experiences outside of the normal day-to-day routines (American Red Cross, 2020), and show children the importance of helping others. In addition, new friendships and interests may form through volunteer efforts that can stay with the family for a long time.
Benefits to families who volunteer can include the following:
- Adults and children share the same goal and a common purpose.
- Children gain opportunities to share their time and talents.
- Children learn self-confidence and acquire new skills.
- Family members encounter and learn about people from different cultures and economic backgrounds and, consequently, grow as human beings.
- Family members see one another with a fresh perspective.
- Family members communicate with each other more effectively and are and more supportive of one another.
- Volunteer experiences carry over into other parts of their lives such as dinner table discussions.
- Children learn the lifelong lesson that by giving to others they can put their own problems in perspective.
During this time of a global pandemic, it may take a little creativity to find ways to volunteer and give back to the community. Below is a list of some safe ways to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic (Wright, 2020).
- Use your crafting skills to provide comfort to shelter pets.
- Lift the spirits of a child with cancer by sending an e-card.
- Help people in need by crocheting garments. Warm Up America! is a nonprofit that has been helping people in need stay warm since 1992.
- Help a family in need buy holiday gifts for their children.
- Record bird sightings, whether you see them at a park, in your own backyard, or somewhere else, to benefit science and conservation. You can contribute to projects by submitting your own bird sightings here (Hatem, 2020).
- Support our troops: Kids can write a letter or draw a picture to send to our Service members overseas or in the United States through A Million Thanks or Operation Stars and Stripes.
- Walk dogs, collect mail, shovel snow, or rake leaves for someone in your neighborhood who needs the help.
- Earn a President’s Volunteer Service Award for your volunteer work. People of all ages can sign up, track their hours, and search for volunteer opportunities through United We Serve.
- Kitchen Table Project: Sometimes it’s not what you cook but how you present it. Decorate paper lunch bags and drop them off at your local Meals on Wheels (Feeding America, 2020).
American Red Cross. (2020). Become a volunteer. Get Help. https://www.redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html#step1
AmeriCorps. (2020). 10 ways to safely help your community during covid-19. Serve your community. https://www.nationalservice.gov/serve
Feeding America. (2020). How to volunteer during covid-19. Take Action. https://www.feedingamerica.org/take-action/volunteer
Hatem, A. (2020, March 5). How your family can volunteer during the pandemic. Giving Back. https://offspring.lifehacker.com/how-your-family-can-volunteer-during-the-pandemic-1842457312
Wright, B. (2020, April 13). You’re your family can volunteer during the covid-19 crisis. Thomas B. Fordham Institute. https://fordhaminstitute.org/national/commentary/ways-your-whole-family-can-volunteer-during-covid-19-crisis