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Volunteering Opportunities with the kids

A couple of years ago, we hoped to amass a list of volunteering opportunities for families with their children.  It is around this time every year that many of us start to think about how we can involve our children in contributing time, effort, and money toward causes important to us.  An urbanMama recently emailed: 

I don't know if it's the impending holidays or coming out from the fog of my third child's early childhood years, I've been thinking more about volunteering as a family or with my oldest child (age 8).  Service to others has always been an important part of my personal and professional lives, but most of my energy has been focused on my kids for several years.  My husband and I donate money regularly to many organizations, but those donations are not necessarily tangible to my kids.   I'd like to do better at communicating to my kids the importance of helping individuals in need and the wider community.  I'd like to find ways for us all to help.  Any suggestions?

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Habitat for Humanity. Great cause and has a youth division and a myriad of opportunities. While children under (I believe) 16 can't actually work on or build anything, they can help in other ways (like baking, delivering and serving cookies to job sites). In the past they've even held holiday events (like making graham cracker gingerbread houses) for children and families.

Unlike some organizations that sadly get a bit too structured (one required a training class and sizable donation before you were permitted to give your time), they're happy to make it work for their volunteers.

Oregon Food Bank! It's a great chance for kids to help in a hands-on way.

Northwest Children's Outreach is a great organization, they provide basic needs services for a LOT of the agencies that work with families in need. They need help packing and sorting donated items which could be a good job for an 8 year old. http://www.northwestchildrensoutreach.org/whatwedo.php

Our family heads up a "Sandwich Squad" team of about 12 families that prepares sack lunches every 8 weeks and delivers them to area shelters. The whole project is organized by the church that affiliates with our preschool, but it could easily be duplicated in another community. We LOVE the project, and most of the members on my team do too. Every 8 weeks, each family prepares 10 sack lunches. Our kids decorate the bags while parents make the sandwiches. Then we line the bags up along the counter and fill them up. The kids enjoy picking out the items from the store and stuffing the bags, and it gives us such a great chance to talk about community service. Just this past weekend we packed up the back of our car with our team's lunches (120!) and delivered to a Women & Children's center...so great to see what can come together when a few families set aside a little time (only takes about an hour) and a few dollars (less than $20) to help others.

Seconding the food bank. Kids I've seen there really seemed to be having fun scooping frozen beans and counting out potatoes.

Some volunteering options are gathered here - http://www.pdxkidscalendar.com/pdx-holiday-fun-2012/#volunteer

Yes, we've done Habitat as well. For younger kids, it was 'build a birdhouse', but at least it was a fundraiser for a cause. And yes, you can also do cookies for workers.

Handsonportland.org is a great warehouse for Portland area opportunities. They have an calendar of events, and you can choose to see options for children 13 and under. It's easy to use and easy to sign up.

Thanks for the suggestions!

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