Kids are never too young to start volunteering.

Are you envisioning a toddler pulling the table cloth out from under an intricately decorated auction table?  I have two boys and if you told me they could volunteer when they were that age, I’d have thought you were crazy. But, now I see that a child of any age can start volunteering with their parents, grandparents, or caregivers. It’s never too early!

The key is matching the volunteer opportunity to the child’s age.

An infant can join you for an hour trash pick-up or 5k walk to raise money for charity. A 2 year old can lay a pillow on a pad at a DuPagePads site with the help from their parent. A four year-old can make dog treat boxes for the Humane Society.

When's a Good Age to Start Volunteering Race

Elementary age kids are starting to be aware of challenges other kids go through such as having cancer, families not being able to afford the same clothes and food as they have, bullying, having trouble learning, the list goes on. Ask them if they want to help other children their age. How would they help them? How would that fit into your family schedule? Not only is this a great conversation starter on some tough issues, but it will get them fired up to volunteer when they are passionate about the cause.

For my kids, it’s all about dogs and cats (Probable since we don’t have a dog or cat).

My boys both attended the Naperville Area Humane Society’s Summer Camp last year and are now addicted to the kittens! Jackson will be 10 this summer and cannot wait to start volunteering there. Annie our youngest had to join in like her “big brothers,” so she collected toys at her birthday party last year for the “doggies and kitties”.

When's a Good Age to Start Volunteering Donation to Humane Society

Once you know the item your child cares about just “Google” to find a charity championing that cause in your community.

Contact the charity to find out what their needs are and how you can help. Let them know the time you have to give and work together to determine a great volunteer project.

Middle school and high school students are able to take on more responsibility with their volunteering efforts. As teens are able to perform more complex tasks for charities, it is often easier to find these opportunities. Great places to start include: volunteer fairs, high schools, churches, community organizations and municipal websites.

I hope these tips have convinced you that no matter what the age of your child – now’s a great age to start volunteering together.

By Marion Ruthig

Want more information? Check out the following resources:

In the Naperville, Illinois Area –

http://www.naperville.il.us/serviceopps.aspx – community service opportunities

http://www.kidsmatter2us.org/volunteer/ – hosts local volunteer fair, volunteer opportunities

https://www.insidoutclub.org/ – volunteer opportunities for families with kids ages 3-12

Related articles & information-

http://www.parents.com/parenting/better-parenting/style/volunteer-with-your-kids/

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/global-awareness/how-and-why-your-child-should-start-volunteering

http://www.volunteermatch.org/

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