When parents ask me, "How old should my children
be to start volunteering with me?" my reply is always
the same: "Whatever age they are right now." It's never
too early to begin a tradition of giving with your
children, and it's never too late to start. That includes
infants and toddlers-as our suggestions below
demonstrate. It is a great lesson for children to learn
the value of integrating service into daily life at an early
Jenny Friedman, Executive Director
||Connect to a Cause
Make a Difference...
Friendly visiting: Call the volunteer
your local nursing home and ask if you could be
matched with a senior to visit regularly, or if you and
your children can just come by and spend time with
the residents. You can bring books or toys to share;
these also give the seniors an excuse to interact with
your young one.
Walk for charity: Pack the kids in the
make a difference while you yourself get some
exercise! Click here to find charity walks near
Make deliveries: Volunteer for Meals on Wheels,
contact your local library about delivering books to
patrons who are homebound, or visit
volunteermatch.org to find other opportunities for
delivering food or other items with your kids.
Volunteer from home: For ideas on
volunteermatch.org and click on "virtual
volunteering." Or consider creating crafts for
organizations, "adopting" a lonely
senior, or becoming
a sponsor for the Box Project.
Mentor as a family: One idea is to include
with intellectual disabilities or an at-risk child in your
family's activities several times a month. Visit
volunteermatch.org to find a local organization
that makes these matches.
There are a variety of ways you can volunteer with very
young children. For some projects, they can simply tag
along and observe, and that's fine. For others, they
can contribute their smiles and charm, making the
experience richer and more meaningful for those you
||Foster the Art of Giving
Talk About It...
We don't wait until our children are old enough to
understand every word before we begin reading to
them. That's because we want them to know as early
as possible that reading is valuable - an integral part
of a rich life. The same is true with service. Children
who volunteer with their parents learn early on that
giving to others is valued in your family.
As your children grow, you can tell them about the
impression they made as a "baby volunteer." They'll
love to hear your stories.
Even when your children are young, you can help
them understand the joy of giving back by describing
how their visit to a nursing home or delivering a meal
is making others happy. They'll eventually discover
that you can make a positive difference in someone's
life, even as a 2-year-old.
For adults who are taking time off from the paid
workforce to care for children, family volunteering
enables you to keep your skills sharp and contribute
to the community, while spending quality time with
Although your infant or toddler might not be ready for a
meaningful conversation about the value of giving
back, that doesn't mean s/he won't benefit from
volunteering with you at an early age. Consider this:
Learn About It...
A simple book with charming watercolor illustrations,
Because of You by B.G. Hennessey
(Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press, 2005),
delivers a message to young children about the value
of doing for others and how good it feels to have
others help you.
Photo: Because of You by B.G. Hennessey
I was taught that the world had a lot of problems; that I
could struggle and change them; that intellectual and
material gifts brought the privilege and responsibility
of sharing with others less fortunate; and that service
is the rent each of us pays for living -- the very purpose
of life and not something you do in your spare time or
after you have reached your personal goals.
Marian Wright Edelman
||News From DGT
On behalf of the staff, board and volunteers at Doing
Good Together, we wish you all a magical holiday
season and a very happy New Year.