8 Ways to Get Your Kids Engaged With Their Community

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If you want to make sure that your kids understand the importance of engaging with and helping out their community, you can start now. Although there aren’t as many volunteer opportunities as usual due to coronavirus, there are still many ways that you and your entire family can help out your community. Below are a few ideas that you try out today.

1. Donate Unwanted Toys

No matter what age your kids are, they are likely to have outgrown some of their toys. Once they’re able to fully conceptualize what it means to donate something or share it with others, you can have them choose which toys they donate. If it’s safe in your area, you can have them come with you to drop the toys off. If your kids see that others are getting to enjoy the toys that they no longer have use for, it can help them understand why giving away these toys is so important.

2. Pick Up Trash in a Local Park

Once your kids are old enough to safely handle trash, you can take them to any local greenspace and work together to pick up any litter that may be around. Even if you have younger kids who can’t help yet, you can set an example by picking up trash whenever you’re at the park. On average, toddlers take 176 steps per minute, so they may not really notice what you’re doing, but eventually, they will pick up on your habit. Our kids love to mimic our behavior, which means that we should be doing the things we want them to do.

3. Make Cards and Gifts For Healthcare Heroes

During this pandemic, having something that makes you smile can be its own kind of miracle. As many healthcare workers struggle through new precautions and longer hours trying to fight the spread of coronavirus, getting a card could make their day. This is a great activity to organize through your child’s class or another group. Make sure to contact a local hospital as well to see whether or not they’d be willing to accept and distribute the cards.

4. Donate Outgrown Sports Equipment

Certain sports equipment, like cleats or baseball gloves, can be outgrown before they’re worn out. If that happens, the equipment doesn’t have to be thrown out. Instead, you can contact your local community center to see if they’re accepting donations of equipment. There are some organizations that specifically collect used sports equipment as well, so make sure to look for those in your area.

5. Foster Pets

If your family usually volunteers at your local shelter to walk or care for dogs, you should consider fostering a dog or two. Because of the pandemic, many shelters cannot house dogs the same way they used to. This may not be feasible for everyone, but it can be a great way to teach your kids about the responsibilities of not only caring for a pet but caring for a pet that you know is going to end up living with someone else. Plus, you’ll be helping out an animal that may have been put in an overcrowded foster home until their adoption.

6. Make Cards For Senior Living Communities

Between 2015 and 2020, it’s been projected that the percentage of people at least 60 years old will go up from 12% to 22%. This means that there likely are many more people in nursing homes and other senior living communities. Before COVID-19, a great way to volunteer with your kids was to go visit these communities so that the people living there could socialize with kids. However, you can still contact local nursing homes or senior living communities and ask if they’re looking for pen pals for their residents. This can help your kids practice their writing and written communication skills as well as giving the people in these communities, who are likely not seeing their families very much right now, some much needed social interaction.

7. Make Care Packages For Those Experiencing Homelessness

Homelessness and poverty have become even worse problems due to the economic impact of the pandemic. To help out, you and your family can create bags of necessities that those experiencing homelessness may not have access to. If you want to make this type of care package, consider including these items:

  • Socks.
  • Gloves.
  • Snacks like granola bars or single-serve packets of nuts.
  • Sunscreen.
  • Dental hygiene products (toothbrushes and toothpaste)
  • Wet wipes.
  • Feminine hygiene products for those that get periods.
  • Bandaids.
  • A water bottle.
  • Lip balm.
  • Hand lotion.
  • Tissues.
  • Disposable face masks (they may not have a way to wash reusable ones).

You can package the kits into a resealable, clear Zip Loc bag so that it is clear what is in the bag and they are able to use it to store the items in the future.

You don’t need to work with a homeless shelter to distribute these care packages, but it can be helpful if you aren’t sure where there are homeless camps in your town or city. If you are handing them out with your kids, try having a real interaction with those you’re handing the bags out to. They may not experience a lot of people who treat them like the humans they are, and it can be very powerful for older kids to see what kindness does in person.

8. Donate Clothes They No Longer Want

When kids are going through a growth spurt, they’ll likely go through clothes just as fast as you can buy them. If your child has braces for the average time of two years, their style and size at the time they get their braces on will likely be completely different from when they get them off. Have your kids help you pack up their old clothes and bring them to donation bins or organizations.

Getting your kids engaged with your community is a good way to make sure that they understand what is happening in the world around them. If they learn the importance of volunteering and helping others early, it is an action that they will carry with them.

How does your family help your community? Did you try any of these ideas? Let us know in the comments!

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