Looking for an effective way of teaching children the true meaning of generosity? Without a doubt, helping others feels good and kind gestures can have a rippling effect and strengthen communities. Volunteering can teach children that others may not be as fortunate to have a warm home, food, clothes, or good health. Though most begin volunteering in their teen years, even young ones can learn the value of giving when parents volunteer their time to help others. Following is a list of places in Hartford County where you and your family can volunteer and help to spread joy in every season. We've also written about opportunities in Litchfield County as well.
Spend some time with the elderly. Play games, read them a book, help them garden, take a walk, or just sit and talk together. Many may not have any family nearby and a social visit from someone is much appreciated.
975 Corbin Avenue, New Britain 860-229-3707
Manchester Area Conference of Churches
Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen that may be looking for help with serving a hot meal to the needy. Many soup kitchens are seeking assistance with set up, meal preparation, serving, or clean up. The MACC is always seeking volunteers and will even customize an opportunity for you.
466 Main Street, Manchester 860-647-8003
Enfield Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen
They serve a hot meal weekdays from 4-5 p.m. and volunteers are welcome Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. to assist with cleaning, answering phones, preparation, food pick-up, and more. If you can't stay to help, consider dropping some fresh vegetables for a hearty meal.
28 Prospect Street, Enfield 860-741-0226
Connecticut Children's Medical Center
Gone are the days of the “candy stripers” but your child can still volunteer at the local hospital…even without the striped outfit. The hospital has volunteer programs for teens ages 15-18, whether they last one summer or it becomes an ongoing commitment. Click here for details regarding volunteer opportunities.
282 Washington Street, Hartford 860-545-9000
For more ideas, check out Volunteer March, which lets you know exactly who's looking for help in your area. Of course, there are many other ways to volunteer, whether you organize a drive in your community: anything from holding a food drive to a toy collection (such as teddy bears for the local hospital), gathering blankets for a pet shelter, sending care packages for the military, or writing greeting cards for residents of senior homes. You could also organize a park or playground clean-up; just get a group together, pass out fliers or spread the word at your child’s school or place of worship. Lastly, simply cleaning out a toy bin or book case and parting with a few favorites can make a difference when donating to community groups such as Gifts of Love (in Avon) or sending a small donation from the piggy bank to Make-A-Wish or St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.
Having children give of their time and resources, no matter how limited, can inspire joy, raise self-esteem, and teach lifelong lessons in generosity and compassion.
If you know of any other volunteer opportunities for young children, please share in the Comments section.
Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of VSP via Flickr.
Originally published 11/12/12.