When we opened the doors on our first United Way Family Volunteer Day last Saturday, almost immediately one very sweet little girl bounced up to our table asking about learning to sew a blanket. I explained to her that she may not learn to sew, but she could definitely help decorate a blanket square that would go into a blanket for a child who was sick. She responded “So my blanket square will help another kid feel better and then they can go home from the hospital with their family and not be sick anymore? What about the kids with no family? What about the children who are poor?”
Her quick response left me completely speechless. Without knowing it, she proved to me why we need the United Way Family Volunteer Day and she reminded me that kids want to help. At such a young age, she completely understood that there were people struggling with illness and poverty and she wanted to help. She was excited to help.
We had 86 children come through this first United Way Family Volunteer Day, most spending over an hour (some stayed for 3 hours!) doing hands on projects that would help. Some were young and colored outside of the lines. Some were teens looking for community service opportunities. But the only thing that mattered on Saturday was that they cared and that they were excited to help others.
While there may not be a lot of volunteer opportunities suitable for small children, I encourage parents to be creative. Talk to your kids about volunteering and about the needs in our community. Find ways that they can get hands-on in the efforts to make our community a better place, whether that is collecting food for a food pantry, writing letters to soldiers or visiting a lonely neighbor. Search for any chance to help plant the seed that there are people with no family and there are people who are sick or poor and that we all have the power to make an impact.
Posted by: Jessica Snyder, United Way Volunteer Center Director
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