*this is a guest post
If it’s been a few weeks since the kids got out of school, you’ve probably heard that more than a few times. For all of the fun activities you had planned, the chore charts, the pile of summer reading books, it’s baffling that they are still claiming not to have anything to do, but here you are, faced with the dilemma of finding something for the kids to do.
While you could turn yourself inside out searching Pinterest for more craft ideas, there is another option that will keep the kids occupied and do something good in the process: Using your summer to give back. During the school year, your family may be too busy managing everyone’s schedules to engage in any big projects, but during the summer, when things slow down a bit and you have time to fill, the timing could be perfect to work on a bigger service project.
Using the summer months for service projects has a number of benefits. Not only is there the obvious benefit of helping a worthy cause, but when you get the kids involved in raising money, volunteering, and working on a project you are keeping academic skills sharp, teaching them about teamwork, and, depending on your project, helping them get outside to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s a winning idea all around, but where do you start?
Chances are, your kids have been exposed to giving back and community service at some point in their lives, such as through school or church. However, if you are trying to develop a project yourself, it might seem a little more daunting.
The easiest way to get involved, of course, is to find an organization that is looking for volunteers or has a need that your kids can help fulfill. Older kids may be able to volunteer a few hours a week at the local food bank, for instance, or get involved with the animal shelter. However, if you want to create a project for your family to get involved with, the best place to start is a conversation. What issues are important to your kids? What are their concerns? What do they think they can do to help?
Once you have an idea of what your kids are interested in, then you can determine exactly what you want to do. Do you want to raise money, or take a more hands-on approach? This is a good time to help your kids do some research, and learn about different organizations, and what they need most, so you can help guide them toward a meaningful and useful project.
Once you’ve decided on an organization, it’s time to get to work. If volunteering at the organization itself isn’t feasible, there are still some things you can do to help out.
- Set up a charity lemonade stand. A lemonade stand is a fun way to learn business skills and raise money for charity.
- Have a yard sale. Kill two birds with one stone, and get rid of unwanted items and donate the proceeds to charity. If you don’t want to have a yard sale, go through your home and identify the items that you can donate to charitable organizations. Clothing, toys, sports equipment, even boats can be donated to help worthy organizations.
- Have a charity party. Turn a summer barbecue into support for a cause. Ask guests to bring food for the food bank, a new toy for the children’s hospital, or other items to help your cause.
- Organize a park or neighborhood cleanup. Get a group together to help clear a park of trash, or beautify your neighborhood.
- Craft for a cause. Spend a rainy day making greeting cards for nursing home residents, or troops serving overseas. Several organizations accept blank, homemade greeting cards to send to those in need, so spend a “crafternoon” helping out.
- Help a neighbor. Does an elderly neighbor need help with yard work or handling chores? Get the kids to help out.
- Get involved with community activities. The summer months are full of charity walks, 5K races, and other events. Keep an eye out for events the family can join or help with. For example, in August, look for your community’s school supply drives and get the kids to help pitch in.
These are just a few ideas of how you can get the kids involved with giving back this summer. When you give them a sense of community and a giving spirit, they are likely to retain that through their lives — and you will hear far fewer cries of boredom.
*thank you for this guest post!