You donated to disaster relief or an important GoFundMe campaign, and that’s a great thing. But it isn’t enough. Opening our wallets has become the norm in North America, but it is open hearts the world needs most. And until there are no more hungry, abused, or neglected people and animals, there is always a need for a helping hand. Teach your children now about compassion, and the next generation will be one step closer to improving the world.
Giving back to yourself
Did you know that volunteering might actually help you live longer? It’s true. Research by Harvard University reveals that those who regularly volunteer enjoy lower stress levels and spend an average of 38 percent fewer nights in in-patient hospital care than those who don’t. Habitat for Humanity also notes that volunteering can lead to job opportunities, a new perspective on life, and the opportunity to travel and get to know world cultures.
Small actions, big reactions
You don’t have to do anything as drastic as living in a remote African village for months at a time to have an impact. While your children are small, you can volunteer in your own hometown and make a big difference, if only in the life of one person (or pet). Small kids can volunteer at an animal shelter walking dogs or simply snuggling with puppies. Rover.com explains that no act is too small and that animals don’t do well without human contact. Volunteer puppy buddies of all ages are welcome at shelters around the country. (Check with your local animal rescue for age restrictions.)
Once your kids are older, they can help in many other ways. Homeless shelters and soup kitchens almost always need help preparing and serving food. Senior care centers often have elderly residents with no family or friends to visit. Loneliness is a huge issue among Canadian seniors; CBC Radio calls it an epidemic and reports that loneliness contributes to death. Just an hour out of your and your child’s week will make a huge difference to someone in need of companionship.
Other ways to volunteer
National Volunteer Week 2018 is coming up in April. But you don’t have to wait until then to get started. Here are some great ideas to get your entire family involved:
⦁ Donate food. Your child can pick out a special item each time you visit the grocery store. Once you have enough, drop it off at your local food bank.
⦁ Walk for good. Numerous organizations use walks and runs to raise awareness—and money—for different causes throughout the year.
⦁ Build activity boxes. Be thankful for your healthy child but know that not all parents are as lucky. Children as young as preschool age can put together activity boxes for your local children’s hospital.
⦁ Everybody clean up. Parents.com also suggests picking up⦁ ⦁ litter around your neighborhood or local park.
⦁ Deliver food. Many people, especially the elderly or disabled, cannot make it to the food pantry. There are numerous services throughout Canada that will allow you to deliver a hot meal to a local person in need. As an added benefit, you might just get to know someone with a different backstory than you. This will help your child humanize people instead of looking at homelessness, disability, and poverty as character flaws.
As parents, it’s our job to ensure that our children are well taken care of and loved. But not everyone has that advantage. Help your children understand that it is their responsibility to be good stewards to their community. The love you’ve shown them is something they can share with the rest of the world. And while one action may not be able to change the world, our children are tomorrow’s leaders, and they may have the power to do just that.
Blog written by Amanda Henderson of safechildren.info