The blow-up Santa in the middle Target has alerted me that the holiday season is officially upon us, and our family calendar shows that it’s certainly not difficult to find things to do together. We’ve got Snow Mountain, pictures with Santa, holiday shopping, and delicious feasts on the docket, and those are all very fun (at least until someone tips a glass ornament display), but they’re all about us. In order for us to turn our focus outward — to see what we have to give rather than get — I’ve been looking for some family-friendly ways to give back.
According to the United Way, volunteering together…
- Allows families to learn about social issues and get a fresh perspective on the world
- Gives kids good role models and reinforces family values
- Lets both kids and adults develop new skills
- Provides a whole lot of quality time for the fam, which also boosts communication and problem-solving abilities
- Helps kids decide what they want to do with their lives
Because we live in such an amazing city, there are volunteer opportunities to match everyone’s interests. Here are a few of the great family-friendly options available:
Take your animal-loving crew to Georgia’s largest no-kill shelter where there are jobs for kids of all ages. In addition to leading a fundraising team or a supply drive, kids can also help by working at the dog and cat shelters, handling dogs at weekend events, and assisting with December’s pet pictures with Santa event. Check the site for volunteer applications and details.
Lots of kids at CHOA are super thankful for the special love they get from people they’ve never met. Due to the hospital’s infection control policy, youth volunteers do not interact with patients, but there are still many ways for children in kindergarten through fifth grade to brighten a sick child’s day. Check the site for each location’s Young Friends and Family Volunteer days. There are ongoing opportunities throughout the year, including a VolunTEEN summer program for older kids.
If you have a green thumb — or want to have one — check out the opportunities at local community gardens. Children aged 7 and older (with a chaperone) can help with many of the Wylde Center gardens during workdays.
Show your kids where those giant cardboard boxes of canned food donations end up, and how that food helps local families stay nourished. Kids aged 8 and up can volunteer (with a parent) to inspect and pack food, work in community gardens, sort school supplies, or help out at special events.
Do you love Atlanta? Hands on Atlanta can help you prove it with lots of ways to give back to the city. This awesome nonprofit quite literally has hands all over Atlanta every single day, and now they’ve got a new program to help families with children ages 5 to 12 get involved through Family Service Saturdays.
Does your brood love the outdoors? Give back to nature! Children aged 12 and up are welcome to volunteer with parental supervision. Volunteer activities include planting and harvesting the Unity Garden and maintaining the trails.
Give thanks by heading down to the Georgia World Congress Center on Thanksgiving for the 43rd annual Thanksgiving Dinner, the largest sit-down dinner for the homeless and hungry in the nation. Lots of volunteers are needed to serve over 11,000 meals that day, but there are also opportunities throughout the year.
I’m looking forward to some good old-fashioned giving back this month with my crew. What are your favorite family-friendly philanthropy missions?
Erin is gratefully living and learning from her adventures with five small children and husband in Decatur, Georgia. A former teacher, Erin now devotes nearly all of her time to trying to figure out how to raise a happy, healthy family. With her husband Josh, she helped start FitWit and The FitWit Foundation.