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Volunteer Voices

When I was growing up, there was nothing like the first day of summer. No school, no homework, just fun, fun, fun! By day two, my siblings and I were already grumbling about being, you guessed it, bored. There were few words that my mom hated more than that one. If we even started to utter it, we were met with “I’ve got a job for you.” Needless to say, we rarely made the mistake of letting the “b word” slip.

Let’s face it, kids have far more on their plates than I did during my summer way back then (as my kids like to remind me). There are tons of organized sports, practices, camps to learn how to do just about anything, ­­­­all of which are great but among those things, maybe there’s an opportunity for kids to learn about giving back and making a difference right here in their own backyards.

Not every volunteer opportunity has to be a huge, organized event. There are plenty of things kids can do to help out that don’t take a lot of additional time or effort. Here’s a short list of some of the things that kids can do to avoid the “b word” and provide some summer fun and satisfaction:

  •  Lemonade stands. Everyone loves them and they’ll love them even more when they find out you’re donating your profits to a local charity. Bonus:  Kids keep up on their math skills and they learn about what a specific charity actually does.
  • Games. Whether they’re card games or board games, an elderly neighbor or grandparent always loves to spend time with the kids. Your time is a valuable gift and hearing about what the elderly did when they were young can be very interesting.
  • Sidewalk chalk. A personal favorite of mine, have your kids do artwork for others to enjoy or have them write “happy messages” like “Smile!” or “Be Nice!” as a reminder to those reading them. Make sure they are using your own sidewalk or driveway, or have permission of the neighbors first.
  • Park and beach cleanup. If you’re at the park or beach anyway, why not take a walk around with a garbage bag and clean up the things that “miss” the garbage cans. After a long winter, there are always things that mysteriously appear. Remember, you lead by example. Maybe someone who sees you cleaning up might help out, too!
  • Grow plants and vegetables for a local community garden or food pantry. If you have extra plants, drop them off at your community garden; many use food produced to help local food pantries. Or if you have more produce in your garden than you can use, drop off your extra at the food pantry itself. Gardening teaches kids responsibility and is a great “hands on” learning experience.

 

One of my favorite quotes is from Booker T. Washington, “Those who are happiest are those that do the most for others.” See how happy you can keep your kids this summer.  

For volunteer opportunities throughout Door County, contact the Volunteer Center at 920.746.7704 or [email protected].