Support Your Local United Way
Jason Bethke

By Jason Bethke

Community Service for Kids

02/19/13


It's never too early to start teaching your kids the value of community service. Getting involved in volunteering at a young age can set a life-long pattern of advancing the common good. There are many great opportunities for community service for kids that will expand their social circle, teach them empathy and compassion, and increase their chances of success in life.

Encourage your kids to start by looking into volunteer opportunities with the organizations closest to them. Their school may have a volunteer program that can arrange placements for them. Perhaps they could volunteer at a local library or community center? Joining a scouting organization is another great way to find opportunities to give back to the community.

Other great places for kids to volunteer include nursing homes, hospitals, local parks, and museums. If your child is older and has an interest in the outdoors, many summer camps offer leadership training programs that promote community engagement.

The web is a great resource for finding opportunities for community service for kids. When you've made the decision to volunteer, start at UnitedWay.org by taking our pledge to volunteer. With the help of our AllforGood widget, you can find local volunteer opporunities in your area. Your state and municipal websites are other important sources of information.

If you're having trouble finding a volunteer opportunity that's right for your child, why not encourage them to create their own? Starting their own community service initiative is an excellent education about management and leadership. They don't need to have lofty goals: Simply getting a bunch of friends together to clean up a local park for an hour is a great way to help.

Whether you're young or old, the benefits of volunteering are obvious. Working with a nonprofit or community organization can expand your social circle and create professional and academic opportunities. Volunteer experience looks great on a college application. Students with a strong community service background may also be eligible for certain scholarships.

Kids who get involved in volunteerism and other civic-minded initiatives learn the value of giving back early on. Unlike adults, who have to deal with the stresses of career and family, kids can easily make volunteering a part of their life. Community service for kids establishes positive habits that can stay with them for life.

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