Thanksgiving is truly one of the best days of the year. Not only is it the kickoff to the holiday season, but its also a time that’s solely about giving thanks for our friends, family and all of the blessings we have in life. No presents, no shopping, just a day of appreciation. And now that it is over many families want to share that feeling with those less fortunate, people that may not have the family there to support them, the financial means for a lovely meal or a home to feel safe within. We all want to find ways to give back, and once your children are old enough to understand the blessings they have in life, many of them will feel just as strongly about volunteering within the community. It’s a fantastic experience for your children to have, and a bonding moment for your family that will warm your hearts for the whole holiday season. Here are a couple of ways for you to volunteer and give back as a family.
Depending on where you live, homelessness may be a very visible issue. But even if it isn’t something that touches you personally, it is a burden that we all must contend with. Hundreds of thousands of veterans, children and families sleep on the streets every night, and volunteering in this arena will always remind your family how truly fortunate they are, while helping to build compassion for others. If there is a soup kitchen in your community that’s a great option for a family looking to volunteer. Organizing or helping to run a canned food drive is another strong option. If you have more time to put something together, consider enlisting a bunch of local families to collect toiletries and warm clothing, or even to knit scarves and blankets to give out.If you are concerned that what your children may see in that environment is too adult, consider something closer to their understanding by volunteering with children’s charities. This can often hit kids very hard, as they see other children just like them dealing with incredibly difficult lifestyle situations. Try putting together a donation drive as one way to impact the problem. You could focus it on school supplies and backpacks, clothing or toys and gifts for the holidays. Many kids don’t get any presents at all, and when your kids realize this they may look at what they ask for and receive in a whole different light.
This is also a great time of year to help out the sick or the elderly. All too often the elderly are forgotten in our culture, and overlooked as a group that needs charity. But they often live on very limited resources, and interacting with people with that much wisdom will always leave your family better off. Consider volunteering at a nursing home or a retirement community. Often all it takes is spending some time with people that are very lonely. Another great idea is to have your children make crafts to hand deliver to a hospital, or helping to organize flower or stuffed animal donations.One fantastic way to introduce your children to volunteering is with an animal charity. Thousands of dogs are put down every month due to overcrowded shelters. Consider hosting adoption parties or volunteering with an animal rescue group. You and the kids can help bring in money for charity that will be used over the course of the year to literally save the lives of our four-footed friends. No child can resist these opportunities, but be careful. You may end up with a new pet at the end of the day!