As parents, perhaps one of our greatest challenges is to meaningfully share with and instill in our children a spirit of giving and social responsibility. This Human Rights Day coincides with the winter holiday season and what a tremendous opportunity to pair our spirit of celebration with meaningful action to support the dignity and freedom of all our neighbors (near and far) and to work for justice for all.
More than just giving of our financial resources, giving of our time and talents demonstrates our values to our children in a meaningful way. I reached out to the good folks at , a local social profit organization committed to making each kid’s future bright, to ask them about their experiences with kids and volunteerism. Their thoughts were equally poignant and inspiring. Here’s what they said:
“From a personal standpoint: I facilitated opportunities for my own children to give back because I believe volunteering helps develop a sense of awareness and purpose about the world and the interconnectedness of humanity.” -Lou Durant, Education Engineer
“We make a point every year to adopt a child or family for Christmas so that my kids can pick out gifts for them and find the joy in giving. I have found it makes them appreciate what they have more, as well, when they see the simple things that these children and families ask for.” -Tiffany Ricklefs, Coach Supervisor
“My child’s first experience with donating was when he was 3. He had a new friend at preschool whose house had burnt down. After he found out, he went home and put everything he owned into boxes and wanted to give it all to his friend because even if he had no toys or clothes, he still had a house & food… and that was enough for him. Since then, there have been many opportunities – including volunteering with homeless youth – that they have sought out themselves. These experiences have come to help them understand the importance of compassion, love, empathy, and the spirit of community.” -Tabitha Fisher, Team + Relationship Manager
“My children have volunteered with organizations that align with their personal passions since they were around 8 years old. Encouraging my children to volunteer has given them confidence when collaborating with people of all ages, and has allowed them to better understand how they can serve as a resource and advocate within their own communities. Their time volunteering taught compassion, empathy, patience, and understanding of the world around them. Those same values now serve as a cornerstone, solidly establishing and declaring their core values which they will build upon as they evolve into unique humans entering the adult world.” -Michelle McKinley, Business & Data Analyst
“When children are involved with giving and volunteering at a young age, they can develop a life-long passion for making the world a better place. When they work with others, they will also develop communication, teamwork, and leadership skills. Emotionally, this work can also give children a sense of control and responsibility, and they can feel important and empowered in an often chaotic world.” –Jini Maxwell, Trainer
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in our greater Phoenix community, below we suggest several as a starting point. Some include child-volunteer opportunities while others are adults-only. Whether your kids are physically with you or seeing you give of your time, you are making an impact at home and in your community. If kids are looking for an opportunity on their own, donating funds from an old–fashioned lemonade stand, craft sale (my daughter’s personal favorite!), or other small “business” is a great place to start. As Sharon McMahon of @sharonsaysso fame says, pennies can turn into miracles!
is a great resource – simply search their database for the type of organization you’re looking to support and they can connect you with dozens of opportunities! You can even search for opportunities specific to your kids’ ages. Also don’t forget that your place of worship or local community center may have other ideas on how to contribute.
Volunteer Opportunity Ideas
Support a Community of Kindness
Support Low-Income Families and Families Experiencing Homelessness
Support Individuals and Families Experiencing Food Insecurity
Support Children and Families Holistically
Support Individuals and Families in Crisis
Support Children with Disabilities and Their Families
Support Health-Related Agencies
What are some of your favorite organizations to volunteer with? Tag @eastvalleymoms and @lindsayo61318 in your stories!