Part of raising caring kids is teaching them the importance of volunteering, as a child, I spent many hours volunteering for my Grandparents church. I spent most of my summers helping with teas, bake sales, luncheons, bazaars and funeral services. I got to know a lot of wonderful people and met people from all walks of life.
Lately, the kids and I have been volunteering for The Inn Of The Good Shepard, if you have not heard of the Inn Of The Good Shepard and are in Southern Ontario I encourage you to check them out. They offer plenty of helpful care services for the working poor, the unemployed, and the homeless. Some of their services include a soup kitchen, a food bank, rent/utility assistance, an emergency shelter for the youth, as well as an emergency shelter for adults/families and traditional housing. Other programs are offered such as Back To School, where they hand out backpacks full of school supplies for children. There is always a program taking place that helps the community, be sure to check the web page for more details and information.
Who We Volunteer For
The program in which the kids and I have been helping out at is The Mobile Market, the market offers fresh produce at various sites locally. Every day of the week The Mobile Market (Led by my Matante- Aunt Judy) visits locations all over Sarnia and surrounding areas delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to those in need.
Today at just two of the locations the kids and I helped with, 165 people were able to obtain fresh fruits and vegetables at no cost. All that is required is a proof of address (if one is available) and that you take only as much as you are going to be able to eat before it spoils. Currently, snack packs are available for elementary aged children, these packs contain fruits, apple sauces, milk, peanut butter, raisins, fruit roll-ups and other various goodies to assist in the snacking needs of growing children. I love that this is offered, it’s a huge help for families, especially those who can not always afford to provide daily snacks to their children.
During my divorce, I was often faced with times when I could not support my self and the kids, The Inn Of The Good Shepard always welcomed us with open arms and helped us get back on our feet. I felt at the time that there were others more deserving and needing than my self. When I had to seek help, I vowed I would pay it forward the second I was able to. Now that the kids and I are in a happy safe and loving environment I am proud to say I can do just that! I also feel that it is important to teach the kids that asking for help is OK and that it is very important to pay the kindness forward when you are able.
Why Is It Important For Kids To Volunteer
Volunteering provides children with a unique opportunity to make a difference in their community, it develops community awareness, and provides them with a chance to meet new people from all walks of life as mentioned before.
Volunteering is fun! Especially if you do so as a family, it’s a positive and charitable atmosphere, the kids really love hearing how much their help is appreciated and valued. It makes them feel good to know that they are a part of something that is doing good for other people.
While volunteering kids are learning what life is like for the less privileged, which promotes gratitude for the life that they have. They appreciate things more, like the toys they have, the food they are fortunate to enjoy, the roof they live under, the clothing they wear, and the fact that they have very little to worry about.
They will learn new skills such as leadership, organizational, communication and people skills. This will benefit them later on in life when they are a part of the working force. Volunteering for organizations in fields they would like to explore down the road as a career also provides them insight into that career.
Most importantly they learn to become compassionate, empathetic, kind and helpful people. The world could certainly use more people like this in it!
Where Can Families Volunteer?
Visit Seniors – Plenty of elderly folk love to visit with young families, often times their families are unable to visit as often as they would like. Retirement home and nursing homes often allow families with children to volunteer their time within the homes, either by visiting the residents, assisting serve meals, assisting residents to get to meals and with social engagements organized by the home. Contact your local Retirement and Nursing home and ask how you and your family can volunteer.
Park & Beach Clean Up – Most cities have a program in which people volunteer on certain days of the year, they go in and clean up the parks and make them fresh and tidy again. If you live near a beach like we do, you are able to volunteer and clean up the litter from the beach. Not only does this help promote community involvement but it’s teaching them to care for the environment. A call to your local city hall or parks and recreational office will assist you in finding out more information.
Food Banks & Soup Kitchens– These locations are always in need of extra helping hands, whether it is serving food, moving produce around, or receiving donations. These are excellent locations for you and your family to get out there and meet new people and make a huge impact on your community.
Take Care Of Animals – Local SPCA’s are always looking for volunteers, and many helping hands are needed at the shelters as well as on-site awareness campaigns. If your family are animal lovers this one is for you!
Paying It Forward
It is estimated that 4.8 Million people in Canada are living below the poverty line, jobs are not as secure as they used to be, obtaining employment is extremely difficult, and bills are increasing in rates.
At some point in time you or a loved one may find themselves in need of some assistance from the community, and as I had to learn, that’s OK. I far too often let my pride get in my way, I spent far too many nights worrying about how I was going to feed my kids and pay my bills. I would work as much and as often as I could and never see the light at the end of the tunnel, yet I still had the roof over my head and food in the fridge. I felt that asking for assistance was taking away from someone else who was in much more need than I was. Besides, I had never done anything to deserve the help I’d be asking for.
When I did ask for help the one thing I was told that has stuck with me to this day ” Pay It Forward When You Can”. I have lived by that, and helped people in as many situations as I have been able to, my new motto now that things are looking much brighter is to continue to Pay It Forward. I or my children may one day need help, and it’s important for me to know that I have helped out others, asking for help won’t feel like I am unworthy of it because I know I’ve helped.
Also, it’s OK to need help! It does not make you any less of a human being! The negative stereotyping of people in need Must be wiped off the face of the earth! I have spent many hours and days over the course of my life helping the community through various volunteer settings, I have met all kinds of people. I can tell you firsthand that each and every single person deserves of our love, compassion and assistance! At the end of the day we are all human beings trying to make the best of the life we are given, and we only get one life to live. Humans are social beings, we require community, love and affection no matter what point in our journey we are at.
It is my hope that this is the message my children are learning by volunteering with me.
Do you and your family volunteer? What is your favourite place or charity you love to support? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear about it!