Looking for opportunities to volunteer with your kids isn't always easy. Some organizations require orientations or time commitments that just don't work with your schedule. Instead of seeking out opportunities far and wide, why not help your own neighbors? Elderly neighbors especially can use assistance with even little things like errands and meals, but sometimes they don't have family close to help out or are too afraid to ask. Here are some ways your whole family can get involved (and learn a little too):
Everyone loves a good home-cooked meal, but a gourmet stovetop creation might not be feasible for your elderly neighbor. Prepare a healthy meal (with enough leftovers your neighbor can heat later), and either bring the kids along to deliver it or invite your neighbor over to dine with your family. Your neighbor will benefit from a healthy meal and the time socializing with others while your kids can learn important skills about interecting with and respecting their elders, sharing, and appropriate behavior around company.
Related: Volunteer Your Family Hobby
2. Help Around the House
Shoveling snow in the winter or cutting grass in the summer can be dangerous for the elderly, but keeping their yards and gardens neat is a favorite hobby for many. How can your family help? Pitch in with yardwork - raking leaves, mowing the lawn, digging holes for plants, etc. Occaional inside chores like dusting or vacuuming are super helpful too. Finish up your family day of helping out with shared lemonade and cookies with your neighbor. Your kids can take the lead on finding fun projects to help with and communicating with your neighbor about schedules while learning important lessons around compassion, dedication and time management.
Check out how one college student started a volunteer-powered lawn service for the elderly in his community >>
3. Run Errands
Have a teenager who can drive? A great service opportunity for them (and something to do while they're off school for the summer) is help an elderly neighbor get around. Grabbing groceries, prescriptions, pet food and other errands can be huge taks for an elderly person who cannot drive or who tires easily when shopping. Simple quick trips like this give your teen time to interact with another person who has lots of stories and experience to share too!
4. Don’t be afraid to ASK!
Sometimes the best thing you can do is just ask. You can’t really know what someone needs without asking and your neighbor might surprise you - maybe the best way to help them out is a simple trip, a short visit or a hand-drawn card from your kids, you never know!
Thanks to Lion’s Heart for this guest post!
Community service is becoming a pillar in the edifice of American teenagedom. While school, sports, and even camp can be tightly scheduled and scripted experiences for students, community service offers an authentic, unscripted experience in contrast. Whether it’s serving hours towards a volunteer goal with a school group, going on Mission Trips with their faith community, or simply helping others with friends or family, volunteering is a life-changing, life-prepping activity young people should experience. These key lessons and takeaways are the strongholds of why:
1. Teens practice empathy: Putting one’s self into “another person’s shoes” isn’t always so easy for the teenage brain, especially in the fast-paced digital and social media environments they thrive in. Serving others and connecting with people of all ages and backgrounds in the “real world,” especially those in less fortunate circumstances, is an eye-opening experience. The ability to practice compassion in understanding and caring for another human being is a shared experience few activities like volunteering can offer your teen.
2. Teens learn leadership skills: Teens are on a constant mission to find their voice and develop a lasting identity as they mature into young adults. Volunteering brings out the best in everyone, and for teens in particular, can give them the courage and confidence to lead projects and groups of people they never would have thought they could. Embracing the skills and talents your teen already has, leadership opportunities can quickly follow suit, i.e. does your teen love singing? Encourage them to lead a holiday caroling group in a nearby nursing home. Does your teen enjoy cooking? Help them find an opportunity to make a meal for a local children’s shelter.
Lion’s Heart makes it easy for teens to get involved in their communities and lead service projects! With tips, tools and best practices for getting started, Lion’s Heart provides a trove of localized volunteer resources for teens as well as shares rewards, free webinars, and scholarship opportunities. Find a chapter near you today and help your teen get involved with their cause of choice, just in time for summer break! Get started >
3. Teens step out of their comfort zone: Volunteering takes guts sometimes. Pushing boundaries and comfort zones is a vital lesson teens learn when pitching in in their community. Whether it’s getting up the courage to work building a home with a group of strangers, or getting to know a child with special needs in a mentorship role, stepping out of one’s norm is powerful in the context of safe volunteer environment. As teens start practicing independence and making decisions on their own, this embrace of the “new” will benefit them greatly. Give your teen the courage to succeed with a volunteer service that has their back! LionsHeartService.org is a go-to destination that gives teens looking to make a difference in the world the tools and connections they need to get started. Learn more >
4. Teens learn time management: Like any activity that requires your teen to be on time, volunteering is a great practice in accountability. Much like a team sport or part-time job, volunteering is a group activity where other people are counting on you, and your commitment and dedication is vital to the success of the event. As teens weigh their schedules packed with homework, sports and extra-curriculars, volunteerism will take serious consideration and dedication of time. These management skills will benefit them throughout the course of their life, especially at college!
5. Teens learn that positive actions reflect well on them: Approximately 100 colleges and universities, including Ivy League Schools, are adopting a portfolio based app in place of the Common App. Why the change? While higher education institutions are interested in highly accomplished teens, they are becoming more interested in how teens use their gifts to make a positive impact in their communities. Lion’s Heart has a tool to help teens build their Volunteer Digital Portfolio for college, job, scholarship or internship applications.
A little about Lion’s Heart:
Founded in 2004, Lion's Heart is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit teen volunteer platform available to 6th – 12th grade students. The organization instills the value of community service in its Members, providing meaningful life skills through leadership opportunities and philanthropic experiences. Over the years, Members have performed a combined total of more than 510,000 volunteer hours, which equates to more than $11,000,000 in societal value.
Headquartered in Southern California, has grown to 42 chapters across 11 states, and is actively expanding its reach by adding new chapters across the country. Groups have between three and twenty teens and are organized by gender, grade, and location. Though each group has a parent Class Coordinator, the teens elect their own officers, lead their own meetings, and decide how to serve their community – with no fundraising. For more information visit their website www.lionsheartservice.org.
It's that time again . . . time to celebrate and honor the volunteers making a difference in your community!
Whether you're looking to lend a helping hand near you or simply searching for volunteer appreciation ideas, we've got you covered! Check out these resources from our friends at Create the Good, click here.
Springtime is the time for getting out and doing good with your kids! Here are a few key opportunities for kids and teens to pitch in and help someone in need this season:
1. National Volunteer Week (April 6 - 10, 2016) > The long celebrated National Volunteer Week is a great time for families to connect with local organizations and causes they care about to support a specific volunteer project in their community. The week-long celebration also encourages volunteer appreciation and media coverage of year-round opportunities for volunteers to pitch in and help others. Learn more and access a free National Volunteer Week toolkit over on PointsofLight.org.
2. Global Youth Service Day (April 15 - 17, 2016) > With a special focus on the contributions of children and youth in their community, GYSD (sponsored by Youth Service America) is the largest service event in the world. It's easy for families to get involved > visit the Global Youth Service Day website and work with your kids to pick, plan, post and promote a service project that will impact their neighborhood or community.
3. Earth Day (April 22, 2016) > Earth Day falls on a Friday this year and what better way to engage children in stewardship of the environment than with service and volunteer projects that weekend? Whether volunteering at an Earth festival or celebration in your city, pitching in at the community or school learning garden, or simply beautifying the green space of a local nonprofit, there are tons of 'green' ways to get involved, see more here.
Related: 6 Eco-friendly Service Ideas
4. Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2 - 6, 2016) > This treasured week to recognize and thank teachers is a great way to involve kids in acts of kindness and generosity. Handwriting thank you cards and creating giftbaskets or baking sweet treats for the teacher together are simple ways kids can take action in showing their appreciation. Check out more teacher appreciation ideas here.
5. Hasbro Community Action Hero Award > Know a young person already making a difference in their community? You can nominate them for the Hasbro Community Action Hero Award, a program of GenerationOn. With nominations opening soon, it's a great time to think about the outstanding children (5 - 18 yrs) who you know that are making an extraordinary mark on their community through service, advocacy or innovation. Learn more here.
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An all to real situation volunteer managers have to face when coordinating a busy schedule for lots of volunteers is last-minute cancellations. Not only can this seriously affect the support your volunteer event so vitally needs, but it can cause undue stress and lead to further scheduling complications. Check out these 5 top tips for preventing and handling last-minute volunteer cancellations:
1. Coordinate volunteers online: Free, online volunteer scheduling systems like VolunteerSpot afford volunteer managers the capability to rely on comprehensive online tools to schedule, manage and communicate with volunteers (to avoid last-minute cancellations). An easier alternative to paper sign-up sheets and 'reply-all' emails, free, online sign-ups from VolunteerSpot ensure all your volunteers the convenience of checking out available spots to get involved from their computer or mobile device; as well as captures contact information for the organizer and issues automated confirmation and reminder messages. Try a free demo
2. Ask volunteers to swap: Establish a 'swap' policy with your volunteer group where if someone cannot make their shift, they're in charge of swapping their spot with another volunteer who can cover them. *Note: VolunteerSpot's unique "Swap" feature makes it super easy for volunteers to message and swap spots with one another, right from the online sign-up. Learn more
3. Share a 'sub' list: If the total spots for your volunteer event filled quickly, but you still have interested individuals, ask them to serve as subs or alternate to be on call if someone cancels. Build your substitute list in VolunteerSpot as a "no date" sign-up, or share with your volunteer group using Google Docs or Dropbox, free cloud storage tools.
4. Invite volunteers to bring friends: When recruiting volunteers for your school or nonprofit, encourage individuals to come in groups or with friends. Volunteers may be less likely to cancel last minute if they have both a commitment to the event and to another person they're going with.
5. Use group messaging tools: Find easy ways to communicate with your entire volunteer group quickly in case of a last-minute cancellation. VolunteerSpot's online sign-ups come with free messaging tools that help leaders email volunteers in seconds as a group or by status (i.e. signed up, invited, etc). Apps like Voxer and Facebook Messenger let you text, message, or live voice chat with your volunteer group wherever they're at on any device.
Pin and share these messages of kindness, compassion, helping others, and peace! And make sure to follow our board on Pinterest!
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With the season of thanks officially upon us, it’s time to coordinate real-world giving opportunities for your family. Check out 5 unique giving ideas below and start a new tradition with your family!
1. Halloween Candy Buy-Back: Sitting on pounds of Halloween candy well after the holiday? Sort and send it to Operation Gratitude to be shipped in care packages to troops overseas! They’ll accept donations up through 11/15. Directions, resources and outreach materials here.
2. Red Robin Royalty Program: Did you know that each time you dine at Red Robin, you could be giving back a percent of your check to your child’s school? Their unique royalty program that dolls out tons of surprises to members including free birthday burgers and exclusive savings also supports schools. Register your free account and start earning cash for your school today!
3. Adopt-a-Family: Give your family the opportunity to express true thanks this season by making the holidays brighter for another family. Connect with your church, temple or faith group – or search local nonprofits that organize Giving Tree events. Take the entire family shopping, wrap the gift together and have a conversation about giving and gratitude.
4. Give One, Get One: Turn a gift-giving tradition into a new family mantra – for each gift a child receives, they must return one. It can be to anybody – friend, family, pet, organization, teacher, etc. And it can be anything including gifts, time, compliments, a hug, you name it, let your child decide.
5. Giving on the Go: Family travel a large part of your holiday season? Seek out special opportunities for your family to give while you’re on the road! Stop at a Red Robin for dinner and donate money to your child’s school, learn more. Pack extra granola bars and water bottles to hand out to homeless people you pass on your trip. Or if getting together with extended family, plan an afternoon service project together like a neighborhood clean-up or family charity hot chocolate stand!
More about Red Robin Royalty: Give back 1% of your check to your child’s school everytime you dine at Red Robin! It’s easy to sign up and start earning today, click here. Plus, you’ll get bonus rewards and savings too, just for being a member! Get started
Did you know tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets?* If you're putting out the call for volunteers are twitter, use one of our free images below to capture extra attention and boost turnout! Right click each image to download, save and use on twitter when sharing your volunteer sign-ups and event news!
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Recruiting volunteers? Trying to engage new supports for your organization? Simply need more hands helping at school? Bookmark this list of 8 simple but innovative and time-saving communication tactics for reaching volunteers:
1. Tweet: A simple tweet can say a lot! If your community organization is looking for volunteers, strategic tweeting might do the trick. Utilize searchable hashtags like city names, events, etc. Check out, 8 Best Practices When Tweeting for Help.
2. Email: Whether in a letter-style email from your nonprofit leader or an eNewsletter full of content and volunteer opportunities, email is going to be one of your number one ways to reach current and potential volunteers at just the right time. Companies like Emma, MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact are great vendors to check out for more enhanced eMarketing capabilities.
3. Blog/Webpage: If your nonprofit has a website, make sure your volunteer webpage is doing everything it can for you! Post volunteer opportunities and sign-up links frequently, share volunteer testimonials, and encourage visitors to follow your group on social media. You never know, your next great volunteer leader might just be a google search away!
4. Online Sign-Ups: The easiest way to coordinate and communicate with volunteers is to schedule and remind them online! Planning a service project, an appreciation potluck, a carnival, festival or fundraiser? VolunteerSpot's free online sign-ups and scheduling tools are the answer for saving time and boosting participation! Try it out now
5. Facebook: Reach volunteers where they're at - on social media! Posting volunteer opportunities, nonprofit news, even feel good quotes and volunteer pictures is a great place to start in developing a communication highway on facebook. Check out Facebook for Volunteer Recruitment & Engagement.
6. Post online: Online resources like HandsonNetwork.org, VolunteerMatch.org and CreateTheGood.org let organizations and nonprofits post volunteer opportunities in an online database that anyone can access who is interest. Read more
7. Word of mouth: Few recommendations carry as much weight as someone telling a friend what an amazing time they had volunteering for your organization. If you're group is struggling to recruit new members, consider a "Bring a friend program" where current volunteers are encouraged to bring a friend or group with them to the next volunteer event. Organic, word-of-mouth buzz helps build a loyal base of supporters for years to come.
8. Like organizations: Network with similar organizations in your area to boost one another's visibility in the community. Partnering with another local cause or group can give you access to a whole new sect of volunteers and donors who have a record for giving back and supporting the community. Consider swapping emails to one another's lists, sharing booth expenses at the community festival or promoting one another on social media.
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Are you a super-volunteer? When your child's school, your community or your faith group needs help, are you the first to lend a hand? If you answered yes, then our friends at Cabot want to reward you with a 7-night all-expense paid cruise in November 2015! Enter now
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Since 2009, the farmer-owners of Cabot Creamery Cooperative have presented the Cabot Community Celebrity Award program to honor the achievements and contributions of volunteers from every part of our great nation.
The program continues in 2015 with an Eastern Caribbean Cruise that honors 39 new Community Celebrities. Departing the port of Miami on November 14, 2015 aboard Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Reflection, the Celebrities, their guests and Cabot staffers will embark on an 8-day/7-night all-expense-paid Caribbean journey of a lifetime.
Ports of call include beautiful San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and Philipsburg, St, Maarten, and returns to Miami on November 21.
Why does Cabot host the Community Celebrity Award cruise? It’s one of the unique ways that we spotlight those who serve others with little thought or regard for personal recognition. By partnering with AARP Create the Good, Points of Light HandsOn Network, and an ever growing list of highly-conscientious companies. Cabot is helping redefine what "true celebrity" really means. We believe "true celebrities" are those who make a difference in our communities because of their selfless contributions to others. Since 2009, we've found our celebrities as far away from Vermont as San Francisco, Houston and Orlando.
The farmer-owners of Cabot do this because we want more people to join us in recognizing and applauding the time and talent given to make our communities a better place. We appreciate the heart and drive it takes to do good for others. In recognizing their good deeds, we sincerely hope to inspire more people to contribute to their communities, and we want the notion of celebrity to evolve into recognition of selfless volunteerism. More info
Community Gardens grow so much more than food - they help neighborhoods and cities blossom, they nourish fruitful partnerships and help feed hungry tummies (and minds)! Dig in to these 8 unique ideas for your Community Garden this season:
1. Online Volunteer Scheduling: Use free online sign-ups with reminders to coordinate all your community garden helpers and CSA volunteers. Quick, intuitive scheduling tools make it easy for Garden organizers to recruit help; and 24/7 access from a computer or smartphone get more people involved and signing up. Plus, automated reminders and eCalendar syncing keep everyone on track! Get started today.
2. Garden Event Days: Integrate creative programming efforts into your Community Garden initiative this season! Whether it's a Family Fun Day at the garden where kids and parents get to help plant and water, or simply a Harvest event where community members can come help pick ripe fruits and veggies – it’ll be an event for everyone to enjoy!
3. Vertical Gardening: Short on space but long on plants? Try vertical gardening to add flourish and flare to your garden without plotting out another tract. Tomato and gourd plants do well in a vertical environment with the proper structure and care. Check out The Gardening Cook for ideas.
4. Rock Garden Signs: Add color and pizzazz to the variety of plants in your Community Garden by designating each with it's own painted rock detailing what type of plant or food it is. Encourage family volunteers and children to take part in this project - check out this great example from Lu Bird Baby.
5. Custom Flower Pots: Put more life into gardening by creating your own custom-made flowerpots. Lead a short art class before your attendees get started on planting. From different shapes to artwork, there are tons of ways to make your flowerpot your own. Here are some ideas to offer you some inspiration from Let the Children Play.
6. Garden Sanctuary: There’s no better way to create the perfect community space than to allow the actual community to contribute. Conjure up your perfect community garden for everyone to enjoy by calling members to help out. From stone walkways to custom flowerpots, your neighborhood will have the perfect spot! Check out The Inspired Room for tips.
7. Spread the Word: Trying to recruit garden helpers? Looking for plant donations? Connect with local organizations, restaurants and individuals in the community who could help boost your garden's productivity. Share your social handles for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with your current Garden group - and follow other groups and community leaders on theirs. Socialize your Garden events, post sign-up links on Twitter and Facebook.
8. Plant a Row for the Hungry: Add a special row of nutrient-rich veggies and fruits to your garden that is specifically designated for donating to a local homeless shelter or food bank. Coordinate volunteers to pick and deliver these goodies 2 or 3 times a month, and know where to take the special deliveries.
Training for a 5k? Try training to organize one! From managing tactical event details to recruiting and organizing volunteers and sponsors, coordinating an outdoor race or athletic fundraiser can really take the wind out of you. Stress less and save time finding all the help you need with free online sign-ups from VolunteerSpot!
24/7 access from a computer or mobile device makes signing up to help with this year's 5K or Fun Run a breeze, not to mention eCalendar syncing and automated email reminders! Volunteers and helpers will thank you for making it so easy to get involved.
Charity Race Sign-Up (Mobile View)
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Charity Race Sign-Up (Desktop View)
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In addition to intuitive and quick scheduling tools, volunteer coordinators have access to:
Posted at 03:30 AM in Fundraising Ideas, How 2 VolunteerSpot - Tips, Tricks and Technical, Online Sign Up Feature Friday, Tips for Non-Profits, Volunteer Action - Motivation and Coordination | Permalink
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As parents, we know those sunny summer months can quickly fill up with playdates, vacations and school-free fun for kids. Don’t forget the amazing opportunities kids have though, during the summer, to learn that they’re never too young to make a difference!
Just around the corner is the ultimate summer volunteer opportunity for families – Alex’s Lemonade Days! Started by childhood cancer fighter Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004) in 2004, Alex’s Lemonade Days began when Alex set her sights on raising $1 million to fight childhood cancer, including her own. Alex invited volunteers everywhere to help her by hosting their own lemonade stands and achieve her ambitious goal one dollar and one lemonade stand at a time. Through the help of these volunteers, Alex would reach her million dollar goal before losing her life to cancer in August of that year. Each June, the weekend before Father’s Day, Alex’s mission of raising $1 million returns through Alex’s Lemonade Days, when supporters everywhere contribute to a cure.
Here are 3 easy ways to get your kids involved with Alex’s Lemonade Days:
1. Host a Lemonade Stand: Join the Foundation bearing Alex’s name, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, and take part in Alex’s Lemonade Days, June 12 – 14, 2015 by hosting a lemonade stand in your community. In addition to having access to a member of the Foundation’s staff to help with any lemonade stand needs, Alex’s Lemonade Days participants also receive a limited edition box while supplies last. The box consists of materials to assist in the fundraising process including: an ALSF square banner, posters, stickers, temporary tattoos, a prepaid return envelope and so much more! More info here
2. Go Social: Follow Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation on facebook, and twitter, and make sure to use #LemonadeDays to join the movement on social media. On May 28 at 12pm ET, ALSF will also host a twitter party! Follow #LemonadeDays and join in the conversation! Whether you’re hosting a lemonade stand or simply taking part in a fundraising event, the hashtag #LemonadeDays helps spread the word and gets more people involved. You can pin #LemonadeDays on pinterest too, click here!
3. Learn more about childhood cancer: Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation helps raise money to fight childhood cancer and find a cure, as well as spread awareness about the number one disease killer of children under the age of 15 in the US - cancer in children occurs regularly, randomly and sparing no ethnic group, socioeconomic class, or geographic region. Childhood cancer extends to over a dozen types of cancers and a countless amount of subtypes. Just a few of these cancer types include: Ewing’s sarcoma, glioma, leukemia, lymphoma, medulloblastoma, neuroblastoma, osteosarcoma, retinoblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma and Wilm’s tumor. Every day, approximately 250 kids around the world die from cancer, accounting for 91,250 losing their lives to the disease every year.
Help in the battle to end childhood cancer and honor Alex’s legacy by taking part in Alex’s Lemonade Days, June 12 – 14, 2015. Get involved today!
More about Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation:
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) emerged from the front yard lemonade stand of cancer patient Alexandra “Alex” Scott (1996-2004). In 2000, 4-year-old Alex announced that she wanted to hold a lemonade stand to raise money to help find a cure for all children with cancer. Since Alex held that first stand, the Foundation bearing her name has evolved into a national fundraising movement, complete with thousands of supporters across the country carrying on her legacy of hope. To date, Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 charity, has raised more than $100MM toward fulfilling Alex’s dream of finding a cure, funding over 475 pediatric cancer research projects nationally. For more information on Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, visit AlexsLemonade.org.
Technorati Tags: alex's lemonade days, alex's lemonade days foundation, family volunteer ideas, family volunteering, kid volunteer ideas, lemonade days, lemonade days fundraiser, lemonade stand fundraiser, summer volunteer ideas
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Thanks to RewardVolunteers for this inspiring guest post. RewardVolunteers makes it easy to do GOOD, earn rewards and spread the word about helping others.
Shine a light on service this Summer with these creative and FUN volunteer ideas for kids of all ages!
K – 6 > You’re never too young to give back! We love these easy, kid-friendly ideas for helping others:
Teens > Encourage your teen to join their friends in planning a special service project over the Summer:
Youth/Adults > It’s easy to weave service into fun Summer events and activities you already have planned:
Get rewarded for all your GOOD work with RewardVolunteers! Reward Volunteers is a free, easy way to track the time you spend volunteering in your community and to earn rewards for your contributions. You can also amplify your good work on social media to spread the word and get friends involved. Prizes include vacations, cash, cruises and much more. Get started
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