In a time when connection has been challenging, reminding our children there are ways we can help others is important. One way we can spread kindness is by helping those in our community, through in person or at home activities. Remind your kids that they can make a big difference in someone’s life, regardless of their age.
Humane Society of Indianapolis
If your child has a love of animals, volunteering with animals may be a good match. Indy Humane has a variety of programs for volunteers available starting at age 8. Younger children can help with parents through Parent & Me Programs and Summer Camp. Children ages 13 and older can assist with community service programs such as Service Saturdays and Pat ‘Paws’ ‘Trainer’ Club. The Indy Humane website has a section with details about volunteer opportunities.
Indy Urban Acres
Indy Urban Acres is a collection of organic farms that donates 100% of the fresh produce harvested to local food pantries. In 2020, Indy Urban Acres gave away 60,000 pounds of food, the most since it started in 2011. Volunteers of all ages are needed for weeding, planting, harvesting and cleaning produce.
Million Meal Movement
Did you know that in Indiana, one million people don’t know where they will get their next meal? To break the number down further, 1 in 5 children don’t know where they will get their next meal. The Million Meal Movement has made it their mission to provide for Indiana’s hungry and involve the community, serving over 32 million meals. Monthly community packs are held around Indianapolis or you can plan a sponsored pack. Children age 6 and older can volunteer with family.
Whether it’s making cards for children at a local hospital or delivering flowers to residents at assisted living facilities, Sam’s Wish helps kids learn their small acts of kindness can make a big difference. This not-for-profit organization was started by Heather Stephenson and her brother, Sam McNew. Their website and Facebook page includes updates for activities, camps, and days of giving.
Shepherd Community Center
Located on the eastside of Indy, the Shepherd Community Center relies heavily on volunteers and encourages family volunteer participation all throughout the year and during holiday programs. The age requirement to volunteer at Shepherd Community Center with a group is 12 years and 16 years as an individual volunteer. The minimum age requirements may be waived during special events and holiday programs. Volunteer opportunities include stocking the food pantry, serving a meal, reading to a child, visiting a neighbor, and doing a service project.
Helping over 3,000 children and families every day, The Villages is a non-profit family service agency that provides stability and hope to Indiana children. Ways to help The Villages include collecting new children’s books, creating personal care kits, and hosting gift card drives for those who care for foster children.
VOLUNTEER FROM HOME
Cards for Hospitalized Kids
Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK) collects homemade cards and sends them to children in hospitals in all 50 states. The goal of CFHK is to spread hope, joy and magic to hospitalized children through handmade cards. General cards as well as birthday and holiday cards are accepted year round. You can also host a card making party, inviting friends and providing the supplies to make cards to create together. Additional information can be found on the CFHK website.
Soldier’s Angels is a national program provides support and comfort to deployed service members, veterans and family members of the United States military. Volunteers can assist with a variety of programs including Letter Writing, Cards Plus, Angel Bakers Team and Adopt-A-Family.
Host A Packing Party
Gather a bunch of friends and host a kit assembling party. There is a need at shelters for basic hygiene items (e.g. soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste). Collect travel size items, or ask each child to bring 25 of each item. Then sort by item on a table and give each child a ziplock bag, having them place one of each item in the bag. When their bag is full, they start again! We found a bulk item website where we could get all the needed items for Wheeler Mission at a reasonable price. With lots of hands, the packing goes quickly.
Given the current pandemic, many in-person volunteer opportunities have been put on hold. Call or email before planning to volunteer at a center. These are great ideas for families big or small, school and church groups and the local scouts!
If you know of other organizations that allow families and youth to volunteer, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add the volunteer organization to our list.
“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” – Mr. Fred Rogers
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