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Ways to volunteer as a family

Ami is a writer who is also a childbirth educator and former doula. In addition to her love of all things birth and babies, she is addicted to celebrity news and isn't ashamed to admit it. Ami lives in Chicago with her husband and her te...

Finding the right volunteer project

Volunteering is a great way for the family to spend time together while helping others. Whether in the neighborhood, school, another country or even your own backyard, your family can find many ways to help. Here are some ideas to get your family started.

Volunteer vacation

Getting started

If you're stuck deciding how to volunteer as a family, Heather Jack, founder of thevolunteerfamily.org, suggests asking the following questions:

  • Why are you interested in volunteering?
  • What social issues are you (or your family) passionate about?
  • What are the ages of your children?
  • Who would you like to help?
  • What does your family enjoy doing together?
  • Would you like to do a one-time event or commit to an ongoing opportunity?
  • How frequently will you be able to volunteer?
  • Would you like to volunteer with other families?
  • What talents and skills does your family have to offer?
  • What do you want your family to learn from the experience?
  • What days and times are you available for volunteering?

Where to volunteer

Places and situations in which to volunteer are just about endless. "Families can serve meals to the homeless, help at animal shelters, clean produce, build playgrounds or visit the elderly," says Jack.

You may want to start locally by seeing if your school, office or place of worship offers ways to volunteer as a family throughout the year. For example, you can donate food and Box Tops for Education at your kids' school, or make baby blankets for a children's hospital.

Families may also volunteer abroad. At voluntourism.org, you'll find many ideas and trips. You may even come across a way to volunteer as a family when you least expect it. Be open to opportunities wherever you are.

Finding an age-appropriate activity

"Working with a child's own interests and talents will really help to engage him in volunteering opportunities," Jack explains. "For example, if [your family is] interested in animals, do something at a shelter. If they want to help abroad, find a way to help an organization that is working internationally. Work together -- as siblings or as a family -- to decide where you're going to help. This will engage all participants for the long run."

No project is too small. Whatever you decide, working together while helping others is an experience your family will long remember.

More ways to give back

Volunteer vacations for families in the U.S.
Selecting volunteer projects for your child
20 Ways your family can give back

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