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How to Get Your Kids Volunteering This Summer
May 24, 2012
Just because it’s summer vacation, doesn’t mean your kids should sit idle. Instead of allowing them to fritter away in front of the television while school is out, encourage them to use the downtime to give back to the community.
How can you get your kids to lend a helping hand?
Children will really get on board with causes that speak to their interests. Three real-life heroines who were recently honored for their charitable work by the “Harlequin More Than Words” awards program offer some insights as to how young people can spend the summer giving back. For their extraordinary community contributions, Harlequin donated $15,000 to each of their causes.
• Get Involved: There are plenty of hands-on volunteer opportunities well-suited for young people, such as walking dogs at an animal shelter, reading to seniors in a nursing home, or picking up trash at a cleanup.
• Mentor: Most people think you need to be older to be a mentor. “Even young people have something to offer their peers,” says Sally Spencer, the CEO of Youth Assisting Youth. Teens and young adults who are home during the summer should consider serving as mentors to at-risk youth. Both mentor and mentee stand to gain from such a friendship.
• Organize: Talk to your local shelter or food pantry to see what items are needed most and help your child organize a food drive through his or her summer camp or community center. “Communities hold the collaborative strength needed to tackle hunger,” says Helen McGovern, executive director of the Emergency Food Network.
• Raid the Piggy Bank: “Many children want to give to a cause on their own,” says Mindy Atwood, CEO and founder of Patches of Light, a nonprofit organization for families of critically ill children. “You can encourage charitable giving at an early age by helping them allocate a portion of their allowance for charity each week.”
• Donate: Kids outgrow clothing and books quickly. Together, clean out their closets and shelves and donate what is usable to charity.
To read a collection of short stories inspired by the lives of the three “Harlequin More Than Words” winners, visit www.HarlequinMoreThanWords.com.
Remember, no one is too young to make a difference in his or her community.