With summer vacation on the horizon, your family might have some free time in your daily schedule. Why not use that time to volunteer as a family? There are many places in Indy and the surrounding areas that need helpers, including little helpers. At most places, kids can join in with a parent and begin learning the value of helping others and giving back to the community.
Some volunteer opportunities have changed due to the pandemic. Some opportunities can even be done from your own home. Check with the place you are planning on helping for their requirements.
Children age 6 and up can help pack meals for families in need. In just two hours at a community packing event, one volunteer can pack 400 meals for Hoosiers in the community. If you’d like to make the event an annual tradition, the organization hosts an annual Million Meal Marathon once per year.
Childhood Hunger Education, Engagement and Reverence (CHEER) needs help from age 8 and up, stocking the Mid-North Food Pantry shelves. Through their organization, families can host food drives at their school, neighborhood, church or other groups.
Have a child with a green thumb? KIB needs volunteers to plant trees, clean up neighborhoods, pick up trash and restore areas of the community. All ages are welcome and they host large events throughout the year such as Great Indy Cleanup, Adopt-A-Block and GreenSpace workday. What makes it even easier is KIB offers an event calendar on their website, letting you know where they’ll be and what they’ll be doing each weekend.
Here’s one the family can do at home. This Chicago organization collects cards from all over the country to distribute to children during a stay in the hospital. There are a few rules, such as not putting your contact information in the card and staying away from glitter (it can be a hazard for some patients). But for the most part, grab some construction paper, stickers, glue and markers and let the kids get to work!
For more than two decades, Project Linus has been collecting blankets in all different forms, from no-sew fleece (good for younger age groups) to quilts and crocheted blankets. Chapters all around the country distribute the blankets to children who are sick or experienced trauma.
There are many volunteer opportunities for the families with patients at Riley Hospital for Children. Perhaps the best family project is making Welcome and Take Home bags. Take the family on a quick shopping trip to purchase a provided list, such as bottled water, Kleenex, notepad and pen. A similar list is provided for the families going back home after a stay at the hospital. Pack up the bags and deliver to Riley to put a smile on a family’s face.
There are many opportunities in your community, but don’t forget to do the simple things. Children learn how to care for others from dropping off vegetables from the garden to their neighbor or helping to care for a pet while someone is on vacation. Most important is to keep your eyes open for people and areas where the family can exhibit kindness and love toward others.