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Are you looking for an activity with your grandkids that gives you something to bond over and gives back to the community? If so, I have just the thing for you: volunteering and/or community service projects!
No matter your grandkids’ ages, there is always something you can do to help others, whether it is handing out blessing bags to the homeless, volunteering at an animal shelter, or organizing the shelves at the food pantry. These are a few starting points: here are even more ways you and your grandkids can participate in a community service project.
Benefits of volunteering and community involvement
It is never too early to teach your grandchild the value of giving to and helping others! Even if they are a toddler, you can instill these values in them that can last the rest of their lives. Not only is it good to give back, but it is also beneficial in other ways, including:
- Skill Development: Volunteering helps people of all ages to develop various skills, including leadership, organization, problem-solving, or even technical skills related to specific tasks.
- Self-Esteem and Confidence: Accomplishing tasks and helping others fosters a sense of self-worth and boosts confidence.
- Physical and Mental Health: Volunteering often involves physical activity, which can contribute to better health. Helping others can also have positive effects on mental health by reducing stress and combating depression.
- Community Building: Giving back strengthens the community and creates a sense of belonging – plus, it’s a great way to meet new people and form social networks.
- Experience and Career Exploration: For older kids and teens, volunteering can provide exposure to different career paths and help them gain valuable experience.
- Perspective: Volunteering exposes participants to different walks of life, which fosters empathy and understanding.
- Intergenerational Bonding: Volunteering with grandparents can foster a unique bond, and they can learn a lot from each other’s experiences. Not only that, but it’s a chance to spend quality time and create lasting memories together!
Age-appropriate service opportunities
Now that we have discussed a few of the benefits of volunteering with your grandkids, here are a few age-appropriate service opportunities that you can try:
For Kids (5-12 years):
- Clean-Up Activities: Participating in local park, beach, or neighborhood clean-ups.
- Animal Shelters: Helping at local animal shelters or fostering pets at home.
- Senior Centers: Visiting senior centers and spending time with the residents.
- Charity Runs/Walks: Participating in charity runs or walks with their grandparents.
For Teens (13-17 years):
- Food Banks: Volunteering at a local food bank or soup kitchen.
- Tutoring: Providing peer tutoring or assisting in after-school programs.
- Habitat for Humanity: Building houses with organizations like Habitat for Humanity.
- Public Libraries: Assisting at the local public library.
Tips for selecting and participating in a meaningful project
While you cannot go wrong with any service project, you may want to find one that you and your grandchild find even more personal or meaningful. Here are a few things to consider:
- Shared Interests: Choose a project based on shared interests to increase enjoyment and engagement. For example, if you both love animals, consider volunteering at a shelter.
- Scheduling: Ensure the project fits both of your schedules, as it shouldn’t be stressful or feel like an obligation.
- Comfort Level: Especially for younger children, choose activities they are comfortable with. Remember, the aim is to have a positive experience!
- Discussion: Talk about the importance of the activity and what you hope to achieve, which can lead to insightful discussions about community, empathy, and public service.
- Reflection: After volunteering, discuss the experience. How did it make you feel? What did you learn? This reflection can deepen the impact of the experience.
- Patience and Encouragement: As a grandparent, show patience and offer encouragement, as your grandchild may be trying something new and challenging for the first time.
Volunteering together not only contributes to your community but also strengthens the bond between you and your grandchild, creating memories that last a lifetime. Thank you, Grandma, for instilling a servant’s heart in your grandkids!