I’m a Girl Scouts troop leader, so one of the challenges I have, given that my troop is made up of kids in K-5th grade, is finding opportunites for them to perform community service that aren’t restrictive. I also want to find more opportunities beyond food drives and gathering donations for organizations. While those are important components of service work, kids are capable of much more. Here are some ways that you can find opportunities to help kids and teens get involved with their communities.
You will want to narrow down the options for kids to get involved with community causes. The best way to do this is find out what your kids are interested in. Ask your children what types of things they would like to do to help the world around them. Yes, even preschoolers and kindergarters will surprise you with their ideas. This will give you a place to start. Think about some causes that are important to you or your family as well. There’s no better jumping point than the one from which you stand on.
Source Books for Ideas
There are many books written on the topic of service projects for kids. Books that are great for helping kids to generate ideas for service projects include (these are affiliate links; if you make a purchase, I will receive a small percentage of that sale – using these allows me to keep this website going):
- The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference – Barbara A. Lewis
- Can We Help?:Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities – George Ancona
- 101 Simple Service Projects Kids Can Do – Susan L. Lingo
- 101 Small Ways to Change the World (Lonely Planet Kids) – Lonely Planet, Aubre Andrus
- The Kid’s Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose – And Turn And Turn Creative Thinking into Positive Action – Barbara A. Lewis
Look up Local Non-Profits
Once you’ve identified the types of things that your child would like to be involved with, you’ll need to figure out where your child will volunteer/how your child will help. You can search “city + nonprofit + cause and come up with a list of nonprofits in your area. You can also post in local Facebook groups to ask for referrals to organizations that help others – but be sure to include in your search the fact that your child will be the one carrying out the service project or volunteering.
But…Do You Let Kids Volunteer?
Many non-profits have age retrictions on who can help, so it’s important to vet any organization to be sure your child can participate. When you contact the organization, be sure to ask about children who are the age of your child – and be ready to co-create a role for your child. Perhaps a child cannot work at a soup kitchen in your local city but she can help sort donations given to a food pantry. Maybe your child cannot volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, but he can find out what sorts of supplies they need for a local build and create a campaign to source those.
What sorts of service projects have your children, troops, teens taken on? Share in the comments so we can all learn about the sorts of great opportunities that are available for kids to get involved with their communities.