Last updated on January 5th, 2019 at 05:15 pm
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year to volunteer! Serving at soup kitchens, buying gifts for the less fortunate, ringing the bell next to the donation bucket, sending care packages overseas… The opportunities to serve are truly limitless. And something about the holidays gives us all the feels to pursue serving others with our families.
Too often, though, we forget all about volunteering in the humdrum of everyday life. We have schedules to keep and lives to live, and volunteering just doesn’t give us all the warm fuzzies on a rainy spring day or a blazing hot summer afternoon like it did at Christmas. Meanwhile, the needs in your community haven’t gone away.
The Benefits of Volunteering as a Family
I’d like to encourage you and your family to volunteer, not only this Christmas season, but all year long! Here are some benefits of making volunteering a part of your family life that just might surprise you:
- Volunteering strengthens your family bond. Spending time together as a family is always a good idea. When you volunteer together, you’re not only creating memories and growing closer to each other, you’re impacting your community as well. You may be surprised by what you learn about each other in this unfamiliar environment. Meanwhile, you could find yourselves connecting with other people and their families, creating lasting friendships.
- Volunteering teaches life skills. Every volunteer opportunity has something more to offer. Whether it’s leadership, communication, organizational, or people skills, there’s something for everyone to learn through volunteering. Not only that, your child may find his or her passion in life through volunteering. Some time spent at an animal shelter could send one child on the path toward veterinarian work. Building a house with Habitat for Humanity might spark interest in construction. Or maybe volunteering itself will become a passion that leads a child toward changing the world.
- Volunteering could make you healthier and happier. Joining with others to serve our fellow human beings is incredibly satisfying and can fill us with a sense of purpose. Focusing on others also has this way of reducing stress and improving moods. All of these happy feelings do more than make you feel good, they also contribute to a stronger immune system, making for a happier and healthier family.
- Volunteering fosters empathy. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our own lives and be completely unaware of the life and struggles of others. Volunteering is an excellent opportunity to step outside of ourselves and take a stroll in another’s shoes. Our kids will not only benefit from their own act of service, but also from watching mom and dad move out of their comfort zones for the sake of others. A family that learns how to be empathetic toward others will be more apt to practice it toward each other.
Volunteer Ideas for Families
You’re ready to sign your family up to volunteer, but where do you start? There are countless options, but first take the time to have a family meeting to discuss ideas and hear each other’s hearts. Maybe one child dreams of going overseas to serve in an orphanage, or another child loves to make cards of encouragement. Do you enjoy hiking as a family? Or running together? There are service opportunities that would fit right into what you are already passionate about.
You may not be able to serve in all the areas that your family comes up with, but it’s a great place to start. Then take that list and check out these websites for options and ways to get connected:
Is there a place already near and dear to your heart? Consider how you could volunteer at your church, the nursing home where your loved one lives, or your favorite library.
When Should My Family Volunteer?
Volunteering isn’t easy, especially with little ones running around. But it’s never too soon to get involved as a family. Where you volunteer and what you do will likely change over the years, accommodating the ages of your kids and the different demands on life, but the time to volunteer is always now.
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