It's the season of giving (back), and if you're looking for a way to keep kids engaged during the holidays, try one of these active volunteer opportunities. Not only will these volunteering gigs keep kids moving during the cold, dark months of winter, but they're also a great way to teach your kids about the true meaning of the season. So throw on your winter hat and gloves, roll up your sleeves and get moving for a good cause.
Walk Dogs at a Local Animal Shelter
According to American Humane, approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters in our country every year. Most animal shelters are desperate for volunteers to help walk dogs, clean cages or simply pet and play with dogs (and sometimes cats) while providing them with much-needed one-on-one attention. Contact your local animal shelter or dog rescue to learn how your family can get involved this holiday season.
Clean Up Your Neighborhood
Teach your kids about the importance of caring for the earth, and give them a brisk workout at the same time by participating in a community clean up. Organized community cleanups often take place year-round, but you don't need to join a scheduled event to tidy up your neighborhood. A few dollars investment in trash bags, reflective vests, gloves and trash grippers will provide your family with the tools you need to stage your own clean up and help your kids create a sense of pride in their community. If you're not sure where to start, try a local park or open green space.
Adopt a Highway
Take your family litter pickup to the next level and adopt a local state highway. Adopt-A-Highway programs are run by the state and vary depending on where you live; they generally ask families or civic groups to commit to a two-mile stretch of road for at least four years. The program usually provides the training and materials needed by volunteers to carry out their clean-up goals. As a bonus, kids will get a kick out of seeing their family name on a roadside sign.
Support a Local Food Bank
Forty million people, including 12 million children struggle, with hunger in the United States. Food banks aren't just great volunteering opportunities–they're a lifeline for families in need. Teach your kids about the reality of food insecurity by taking them to pack boxes at your local food bank. After a day at the food bank, they might just be inspired to organize a food collection drive of their own.
Participate in a Charity Run or Walk
An easy and fun way to give back over the holiday season is to participate in a charity run or walk. In many communities, a local "jingle bell jog" or "peppermint patty 5K" raises funds for good causes with the option to do some additional fundraising for your charity of choice. Sign the family up for a fun and energetic way to give back together.
Volunteer With Habitat for Humanity
Help give the gift of a lifetime by volunteering to build homes in your community through Habitat for Humanity. The experience will not only teach your children some important real-world carpentry skills but also give them a sense of pride and hopefully thankfulness for the roof over their own heads.
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