Fostering altruism is just as important to me as teaching the academics from our homeschool curriculum. For that reason, from the time my kids were young, I have looked for ways to volunteer in our community. Our giving back teaches selflessness while demonstrating the needs of our local community. Being a homeschool family means that we have more flexibility to volunteer, so we use that benefit to serve others.
By being deliberate about looking for volunteering opportunities, I have found three great options that really make a difference.
1. Playground Clean Up
When kids are young, we spent a great deal of time at playgrounds.
We typically would spend the last few minutes of our time cleaning up. I would have them pick up any bottles, cans, wrappers, etc. and throw them in the garbage. If there was no garbage can, we filled grocery store plastic bags with the trash and took it home with us for disposal.
Before leaving we were sure to use sanitary wipes or wash our hands in the bathroom after picking up around the playground.
This was a great way to instill pride in the community playgrounds that we enjoyed using. They were happy to contribute to keeping their favorite play places clean for all to enjoy!
2. Pop Can Top Collection
While I did not know about this project when my older two were young, I started this with my youngest when she was 6 or 7. Funny enough it has become a thing that many of our friends and family have started helping out with.
Did you know that you can take the pop can tabs off the cans and give them to your local Ronald McDonald House?
This is what they say about pop can top collection:
Collecting pop tabs is a great way to teach kids about philanthropy and the importance of recycling while raising funds to help children and their families at the same time. Some of our Chapters raise thousands of dollars with their pop tab collections – up to $30,000. Look for special RMHC pop tab collection containers in the shape of a house at schools, community and civic groups, and other local organizations in your area. You can also contact a Ronald McDonald House near you to ask about getting your own house for collection.
So not only can you still get your container deposit back (if you live in a state that does this), but by simply taking the tab off, you can help the Ronald McDonald House, a very worthy charity.
3. Food Drive
We moved to a new neighborhood when our children were 8, 4, and 18 months. It was the year that Obama would be taking office for the first time. He encouraged people to do community service on Mr. Luther King, Jr. Day.
That year we took out our sled (the ground was snow covered), added a plastic bin to it, and went door to door collecting food to donate to our local FoodLink. It was something that all our kids could do. We talked about people in our community who were homeless and had much less than ourselves and about the resources available and how we could help.
This simple act started what is now our Starts At Eight Annual Neighborhood Food Drive.
Each and every year we print up 400 fliers and distribute them door to door about one week before MLK day. Then on that day we set out in our vehicle with the back open wide to collect the food our neighbors have left out for us. Each of our children help to distribute fliers and pick up bags of food.
We then box it all up and take it to our local FoodLink where they distribute it to our local community. We have had the opportunity to tour the facility to see the functioning of the organization. We have even had the chance to volunteer at the facility, by helping to sort food for a backpack program that provides food for kids in local schools who would otherwise not have a meal at home.
The bottom line is that in these three simple ways we have created activities in which our kids can do community service and nurture a sense of appreciation for what they have in their own lives. For more ideas of how to volunteer as homeschoolers, see the article 50 Ideas for Volunteering as a Homeschool Family.
About the Author
Heidi Ciravola has been married to her husband for over seventeen years. Together they have three children with whom they began their homeschooling journey with in 2006 when their oldest was beginning second grade. Heidi is a mother, taxi service, and homeschool parent by day and an avid reader and homeschool blogger whenever there is time left over. You can visit Heidi at her blog Starts at Eight where she blogs about homeschool products and unit studies, homeschool organization and general tips, and homeschooling high school, as well as many book reviews, lists, and unit studies.