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How To Make the Most Out of Volunteering with Your Child

Have a feel-good family outing.

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It’s that time of year when we start adding even more checklists to our usual pile of to-dos. As you start jotting down Thanksgiving grocery lists, holiday party calendars and gifting matrices, don’t forget to leave some room for community service. There are many ways you and your family can give back; check out our handy guide for getting the kids involved below.

Here at Little Sous, we give children the tools and confidence to cook healthy, tasty meals—and have a blast doing it. But we also know that many people in our communities don’t have enough to eat, let alone a kitchen in which to cook. Volunteering with your kid(s)—in a soup kitchen, food bank, mission, or similar organization—is a wonderful way to teach them about community responsibility, compassion, tolerance, and feel-it-in-your-gut gratitude. Immersive experiences have a way of imparting lessons that stick for life.

Feeling inspired? Great! Here’s how to get the most out of your family’s experience:

Check the Age Minimum. Most organizations will have an age minimum for volunteers. It may be for the organization as a whole, or just for specific tasks, such as packing boxes at a food bank or serving meals at a soup kitchen. But there are plenty of meaningful opportunities that have no age limit when parents and children do them together, including grocery shopping for seniors, donating clothing and personal care products to a mission, and organizing a canned food drive at your school.

Know Your Kiddo’s Bandwidth. If you’d like to volunteer with a specific organization, you’ll most likely need to call ahead and get on their schedule (or sign up online). Ask the volunteer coordinator if there’s anything you should know before your family participates, and, if possible, visit the facility beforehand to ensure your child will be comfortable there. If you have a good experience, consider signing up for a regular gig together—while the holidays are always a popular time to volunteer, all charitable organizations need help year-round.

Talk about Your Plans. Whether you’re visiting a nursing home or a mission, talk to your child about what to expect well in advance. Be enthusiastic as you explain what you’ll be doing and why it’s so important. You’ll also want to talk about any people you’ll be interacting with, such as shelter visitors who don’t have the luxury of a bath every day, very sick children, or elderly folks who may have trouble hearing, speaking, or moving. These conversations are a great way to expand your child’s definition of humanity and model understanding. Encourage him to ask questions and assure him that your goal is to both help others and spend time together.

Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking box that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!