National Family Volunteer Day is a great time to gather your family behind a cause that’s close to your heart. Volunteering together as a family not only strengthens your family bond, but it also benefits your community and the people you share it with.
Volunteering for community causes is something most of us think about — but we don’t always take the time to do it. What if you could rally your whole family behind a local cause and volunteer together? You can when you participate in national Family Volunteer Day, which is on Nov. 23, 2013.
A national initiative
Family Volunteer Day is a Signature Points of Light Day of Service, and it falls on the Saturday before Thanksgiving each year. The Points of Light organization created Family Volunteer Day 22 years ago in an effort to highlight the benefits of family volunteering opportunities and to join forces with local community organizations that could use a helping hand. Families volunteering together provide a powerful force that can create big changes in their neighborhoods and communities — and in the world. This year, Family Volunteer Day is sponsored by Disney Friends for Change and is powered by generationOn, Points of Light’s youth-service enterprise that provides tools and resources to help kids change the world — and themselves — through community service.
Why family volunteering?
Volunteering together as a family has benefits that extend way beyond simply giving back. Families who volunteer together strengthen their bond by sharing an experience that benefits others while giving them a boost as well. In addition to these benefits, volunteering as a family provides children and their parents with an opportunity to see each other in a different light, even as role models. Family Volunteer Day is held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving as a great way to kick off the holiday season, but it’s also the start of National Family Week.
Learn about ways to volunteer as a family >>
The importance of family service
According to the Family Volunteer Day site, research suggests that when parents and their children participate in service projects together, there are positive outcomes for everyone. The benefits are as follows:
Family service benefits children and youth by cultivating positive values such as caring and empathy and by developing a commitment to service both now and in the future.
Family service benefits parents by giving them more quality time with their children and by providing them with all the other benefits of volunteering, including increased interpersonal skills and improved health.
Family service benefits families by increasing their sense of cohesion, well-being and connection to the broader community.
Family service benefits sponsoring organizations and civic life by attracting more volunteers, increasing volunteer commitment and bringing new energy to traditional volunteer opportunities.
How can families volunteer together?
It might seem difficult to find a volunteer opportunity that fits all members of your family, but most community organizations that need help have multiple needs to be filled. Here are a few ideas to spark your family in their quest for an opportunity that everyone can participate in.
- Food banks: Local food banks are busy year-round — but especially around the holidays. From bagging food to unloading delivery trucks to handing bags out to recipients, there are multiple jobs that are appropriate for many members of your family. Teenagers and adults who are physically able can unload trucks and move bags and boxes, while younger kids can greet customers and hand out bags of food. Even the youngest members of your family can make cards or draw pictures for the food-bank customers — a sweet touch for someone who probably needs a boost.
- Outdoor cleanups: Every local community has a park, a walking trail or school grounds that could use a little TLC. Adults and teens can do the heavier yard work, trash collection or other manual labor, while the younger ones can help plant seeds, paint park benches or make artwork.
- Community service: Every neighborhood has a nursing home, a veterans’ hospital or a children’s wing at a local hospital. A great way to involve the younger members of your family in a service project is to let them interact with the people you are all helping. Young kids can draw pictures, make cards or sing songs at the nursing home, or they can collect gently used games and toys to deliver to the children’s floor at the local hospital. Involving your kids in helping other people teaches them both respect and compassion.
Check out these 20 ways your family can give back >>
How can your family help?
Would your family like to get involved in volunteering together? You can search for volunteer opportunities by area of interest and zip code on the Points of Light website, or you can contact your local Chamber of Commerce or community center for opportunities in your local area. Volunteer together to grow together — not just on Nov. 23, but year-round.