As mothers, we all strive for our babies to grow up to be well-rounded adults, who have a heart for giving and empathy for all of mankind. The conundrum: How do we grow these types of humans? How do we expose them to ways of giving back while keeping them safe?
How do we create big hearts in tiny people?
The answer: Volunteerism!
Atlanta has many opportunities for volunteering. Here are a few options as well as factors to consider for children to become involved.
When deciding on ways to get your children involved with volunteering, it is important to always consider safety first. Look for Volunteer opportunities that involve the entire family. This creates teamwork within the family unit while allowing parents to keep a close eye on their little ones the whole time. These volunteer opportunities are safe for the whole family to participate in.
Nicholas House is a program that assists homeless families in making the transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency in a structured but home-like environment. As a family, you can provide dinner to the residents of Nicholas House. You can also choose to serve the meal to the residents or even bring along games or crafts that your children can participate in with the resident children. My family enjoyed this experience and found it to be safe and rewarding.
Food Well Alliance provides an opportunity for families to get outside together while beautifying our earth and community. It is a collaborative network of local leaders working together to build thriving community gardens and urban farms across metro Atlanta Volunteer age requirement starts at age 8- meaning you can safely work right alongside your little ones. You can sign the family up for a volunteer date for apple picking or vegetable planting or even partake in common tasks such as weeding, turning compost, spreading mulch, and beautifying garden spaces. No experience is needed – you’ll learn as you work! Your family can even make an impact on those in need by growing produce in your garden at home and donating your excess to local food pantries through the Food Well Alliance. How cool is that!!
Let’s face it, life is busy! Between school, extracurricular activities, and family time, it’s hard to find time to volunteer. Look for volunteer opportunities that require little time commitment or that you can do from the comfort of your home.
Be My Eyes is a free mobile app that allows you to help the visually impaired community from anywhere. It was specifically designed to make the world more accessible for blind and low-vision people by connecting the visually impaired with sighted volunteers through a live video call. The first time my children saw me answer a call from a visually impaired person, they were amazed at the opportunity for me to help someone across the world complete small tasks that we take for granted each day. I’ve received calls from Canada to California and I’ve been able to assist right here in Atalanta. I’ve talked to teenagers and grandparents who are visually impaired. I helped the caller make doctor appointments, find a missing shoe, or assist with homework. And my children have been present to witness this. Based on your child’s age, they can even answer the calls (with your approval and oversight) and feel amazing about themselves for simply helping another in a time of need.
I Found Quilted Heart is spreading joy one heart at a time! And boy is it easy. Here’s how it works: Volunteers place small, quilted hearts around the globe to brighten the day of a stranger. If you find a heart (which I did and shared with my kids) then it’s yours to keep. You can report your find with a story and a photo to the community site. You can then pay it forward by joining in on the fun. Get the kids together, make some tiny quilted hearts, and plant them around in the community to brighten the next person’s day. So fun, and so easy!
Habitat for Humanity is a well-known non-profit organization that is known for providing safe, stable housing for families. This non-profit powerhouse also provides home activities for children that are designed to teach them all about housing inequality, the importance of having a safe, affordable healthy home, and get their little minds thinking of ways to strengthen their communities. Now, talk about Easy Peasy!!!
Keep it Local
To get the biggest impact from immersing your children in volunteerism, Keep it local. Finding volunteer opportunities within your community allows your children to see the benefits of their labor firsthand.
Look for community refrigerators/cabinets in your community and contribute to it. For example, just south of Atlanta in McDonough Georgia, community members donate to the Fridge. Those in need can go by and take whatever helps them out for the day or even leave behind items for others. Gather food items with your kids and take them down to your local refrigerator/cabinet.
You can always adopt a family any time of the year at the local Domestic Violence Shelter. My family adopted a family for Christmas through our local shelter, Haven House. The kids really got into finding out our “adopted” children’s ages and interests and had so much fun shopping for the family. You can also adopt a family through your church.
Another local impact can be accomplished through donating clothing and household items to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army. Both places have simple ways to donate items and there are many locations around and outside of Atlanta. Salvation Army even has an option for you to arrange pick-up of items from your home. By choosing a location close to your neighborhood, you ensure that those locally will benefit from your generosity.
Volunteerism can instill so many great qualities in our little people. Finding safe, easy, and local ways to give back is surely a stepping stone to ensure you raise well-rounded, good-hearted, empathetic big people.