With the end of the year upon us and 2016 right around the corner, many families choose a project or charity as a way to give back during the holiday season. If you find yourself wanting to give back, but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve assembled the list below to get you and your family on the right track to giving back. Below we’ve got tips for choosing the right project or charity, as well some places and ideas to get your family motivated and inspired.
Look for a project that fits your family.
Choose a project or charity that aligns with your family’s hobbies, interests, or values. For example, if your kids LOVE arts and crafts, look for a project that lets their inner Van Gogh shine. Remember that the goal is to give back, not to make volunteering feel like punishment.
Learn as much as you can about the project or charity before you decide to work with them.
The last thing you want to happen is you and your family show up ready to help, only to realize that your family isn’t a good fit for the job. Make sure you learn as much as you can about the project or charity before you sign up. If you have small children or an elder that want to help, pick a project that they will be able to participate in.
While you may choose to help a brand new project or charity, choosing one that has a history of working with volunteers can help things go more smoothly.
Questions to ask before you volunteer:
- What is the location and hours?
- How long have you been working with volunteers?
- What are the tasks of the volunteer position?
- What will be physically required? (Bending? Lifting over 10 pounds? Standing for long periods of time? Sitting in one place for long periods of time?)
- Would my ___ year old be able to help? Is it safe for my child?
- Would my elder be able to help? Is it safe for my elder?
- Are there any dangers or anything else I need to consider before we decide to volunteer?
Charities are always in need of gently loved toys and kids clothes.
One great way to clear some clutter and teach your kids to think about those less fortunate is to help them donate their old toys and outgrown clothing. Give each child a box for toys, books, and miscellaneous items and let them choose what they wish to donate. While they do that, you (and your elder) can go through their clothing and pull out items that they’ve outgrown.
There are many charities out there that collect specific things like coats or shoes. If your family has a mountain of old shoes in the closet this could be the perfect way for your family to give to others in need.
If your family is physically able to serve others, consider volunteering in a soup kitchen.
If your kiddos are old enough, and everyone is physically able to stand, bend, and help out, consider volunteering your family’s service in a soup kitchen for an hour or two. You can volunteer to help prepare a meal, to serve a meal, or to come in after the meal and help clean up.
Animal shelters are often in need of helping hands.
Many animal shelters rely on volunteers to stay up and running, and this could be a great place for you, your elder and your older kids to volunteer. Many shelters need help walking dogs, feeding and watering pets, cleaning cages and pens, grooming animals, and spreading the word about the pets currently available. Due to the fact that pets can be unpredictable at times, shelters typically don’t allow younger children to help, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Clean out the cabinets and help feed hungry families in your community.
Are you going to eat everything in your cabinets? Do you have food that will expire before you get around to preparing it? Get the family together and go through the pantry. Teach the kiddos how to check the expiration dates. Toss anything expired, and consider donating food that expires in the next 30, 60, or even 90 days. The food that your family wouldn’t get around to eating in time would be greatly appreciated by your neighborhood food bank or homeless shelter.
Instead of gifts to/from extended family members, consider donations.
Do you really need another foot massager from great Aunt Sally? If you have relatives that insist on giving gifts to your family, even though you have everything you need and more, consider asking them to make a donation to their favourite charity instead. If you normally buy gifts or trinkets for extended family, you could switch things up and let family members know that this year you’ll be making a donating in their name to a charity or cause close.
Giving a monetary donation to programs that help those in need is also a GREAT way to give back when you have zero time in your schedule. If your schedule is already pushed to the max, and you can afford to do so, call the charity of your choice and ask where to mail in a donation.
Does your family try to give back around the holidays? What kind of projects have you found that allows the entire family to get involved? If you have any thoughts or tips please leave them below. We LOVE comments, and yours could help others looking for an awesome project or charity to work with this holiday season.
Photo courtesy of Rachel_pics on Flickr.