For me and many other volunteers, the family giving season begins the Saturday before Thanksgiving, when United Way and others across the U.S. celebrate National Family Volunteer Day. Created in 1992, National Family Volunteer Day invites families to use the day to introduce children to volunteering and teach them valuable lessons about compassion and caring.
Volunteering as a family can be so rewarding and fun. It’s intuitive, but research has shown that when kids volunteer alongside their parents and other adult family members, it strengthens their value systems. Family volunteering also strengthens families by creating a common goal and improving communication among family members.
United Ways have their own giving season tradition of bringing families together to help celebrate the holidays by giving back. In Mississippi, families can rake their own leaves, and then a neighbor’s, by volunteering through United Way of Lowndes County’s annual Family Volunteer Day event. Again this year, United Way of Greater Portland (ME) volunteers will create centerpieces for Wayside Food Programs’ Annual Community Thanksgiving. In Westbrook, volunteers will create dual language picture books for English Language Learners. Volunteers can also create greeting cards for Meals on Wheels recipients at both locations.
United Way for Greater Austin volunteers will make cards of appreciation for teachers, create ornaments for a Christmas tree at Webb Middle School, and decorate bookmarks to be handed out with a donated book to each child at the tree lighting event. Last year about 1,600 books were donated.
Missed out on participating in an organized project this year? Generation On offers Do It Yourself Projects that can be done at home. Or contact your local United Way to see how your family can get involved this giving season and throughout the year.