While there seem to be many ways to teach children about giving back around Thanksgiving and Christmas time, I found myself wondering about how to get my six and eight-year-old kids involved with volunteering throughout the rest of the year. Some of the volunteer activities I’ve participated in don’t seem to be a great fit for young children. So how was I going to teach my kids to volunteer and give back to their community?
To answer this question, I started by searching on VolunteerMatch.org. After entering my zip code and clicking on “Find Opportunities” I selected a filter called “just for kids”. I found several opportunities appropriate for kids:
- Respite Care Charleston
This organization’s mission is “to bring more good days to seniors with Alzheimer’s or Dementia”. Respite Care of Charleston provides opportunities for kids to do fun things like puzzles, sing, or just play with seniors who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. These opportunities are available in multiple areas of town, and they will work with your schedule.
- Keep North Charleston Beautiful
This organization is a division of the City of North Charleston and an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. They aim to “promote a clean and beautiful environment for all Americans”. On August 27, 2022, they have an opportunity for all ages to help at Quarterman Park in the heart of Olde North Charleston. Volunteers can weed, install cardboard, and make the garden look beautiful. Keep North Charleston Beautiful and Keep Charleston Beautiful have many opportunities such as gardening and trash pickup throughout the year.
- Lasagna Love
Lasagna Love began during the pandemic in a community in Massachusetts, when a mom and her toddler started making lasagnas for families who were experiencing hardships such as losing a job, dealing with sickness, working long hours, etc. This goodwill effort quickly grew and now Lasagna Love is making lasagnas all over the country. The process is simple; first, you sign up by indicating the number of lasagnas you want to make and how far you want to drive to deliver the meal. Once you sign up, Lasagna Love will match you with someone in need in your area. This is a great idea for kids who like helping in the kitchen!
Other Volunteer Opportunities
Next, I requested feedback on ways to get kids involved from other moms on Facebook. Here are some of the ideas they shared:
- Seacoast Serve Day
Even if you don’t attend Seacoast Church, all are welcome to give back during Seacoast Serve Days. Events (such as, “Feed the Hunger” PACKATHON — where they pack meals for those in need) are hosted regularly, so check with your local Seacoast Church for future opportunities.
- Neighborhood Trash Pickup
One mom suggested having a neighborhood trash pickup where you live. This mom said she gives each of her kids a trash grabber, and they talk about the importance of doing our part to keep our neighborhood clean.
- Charleston Parks Conservancy
This organization has a mission “to inspire the people of Charleston to connect with their parks and together create stunning public spaces and a strong community”. The Charleston Parks Conservancy has volunteer opportunities for planting in their gardens, regular watering events, and more!
- Lowcountry Blessing Boxes
The Lowcountry Blessing Boxes can be found in many locations all over Charleston. The purpose of the blessing boxes is to “stock non-perishable food, basic toiletries, baby supplies, and any other items that would be a blessing to someone who finds themselves in need. Items are anonymously donated and anonymously received at any time of day or night.” Kids can help shop for and deliver these items to the blessing boxes. One mom says this provides a great opportunity to talk to kids about giving back to others.
- Beyond Delivery – Postpartum Support Charleston
Beyond Delivery provides a meal, care package, and support to new moms. Once a month, this organization has opportunities to deliver lasagna and diaper care packages to new moms. This suggestion came from a mom who said her 9-year-old son came with her for the deliveries, and he loved peeking in on all of the new babies!
- Isle of Palms Beach Cleanup
The Isle of Palms Beach Cleanup Crew invites all ages to meet every Monday evening from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. to pick up trash on the beach. Check-in is at the beach walkover at the 1100 block of Ocean Boulevard. This year they will be a little bit off the beach, tucked between the City of Isle of Palms showers and facilities, next to Coconut Joe’s.
- East Cooper Habitat for Humanity
Even though the Habitat for Humanity job sites are restricted to age 16 and older for safety reasons, younger kids can give back by making cards to welcome a new family home. One mom said her daughter’s preschool class made cards for new homeowners on their closing day, and it was such a special present. Two closings will be coming up this fall, so if you are interested in having cards made, reach out to East Cooper Habitat for more details.