During the holiday season, we are pulled in many different directions, from work to school to social activities. Unfortunately, family togetherness often gets put on the back burner. It's awesome to do holiday activities together, but one sure way to help stay connected during the this time of year is for parents and kids to volunteer. Not only is it a positive learning experience, but it also teaches compassion and the value of community service.
Pick a Family Favorite
What is your family passionate about? Nature? Animals? Religion? By focusing on what matters most to your brood, you will more likely engage your children.
Many New Jersey organizations depend on volunteers and individual financial support to operate, including Table to Table, Eleventh Hour Rescue and Eva's Village. In lieu of a holiday gift this season, make a donation in someone's honor or memory.
As a Family
Let your children experience the feeling of giving directly to "their own" with one of our favorite organizations, Family-to-Family. The Kids Helping Kids project allows a concrete and hands-on spirit of giving in projects like making a Birthday Box for kids who otherwise would not have one.
From worn towels to extra tubes of toothpaste, many items can be donated to local organizations. Not only is it a valuable lesson on giving, but you are also teaching your children to re-purpose household items. By simply calling a local organization, you can find out the many items they need on a daily basis. Create family time by cleaning out closets, organizing donations, scraping together allowance money and dropping off these items together.
Local animal shelters, including PAWS Montclair, Burlington County Animal Shelter and the Secaucus Animal Shelter, have supply wish lists. From garbage bags to paper towels, dog food and cat toys these shelters need community support to thrive and succeed.
Reach Out and Read and Bridge of Books Foundation, along with many libraries, welcome donations of used books. Instead of recycling your monthly magazines, drop them off to a hospital or nursing home. By creating a regular practice, children will learn to donate all year around.
With the holidays right around the corner, now is the perfect time to give the gently used toys your children no longer want or play with to a family in need. Second Chance Toys accepts used toys (plastic only) that are clean and still in working order. Search Second Chance Toys’ website for drop off locations. If you are feeling extra motivated, this organization will also help you arrange a toy drive. Please note, collections are only conducted during April for Earth Week and December for the holidays. Rescue Mission of Trenton and local women/family crisis shelters also accept gently used toys.
Jersey Cares is hosting its 20th annual coat drive until December 9, 2015. Family opportunities are available to host a collection site or sort donations. In addition, Jersey Cares is hosting Frosty Friends, a holiday gift fulfillment program for children in shelters or transitional housing facilities.
From prom dresses to Halloween costumes, many second hand items can be put to good use. Catherine’s Closet collects prom dresses and shoes during the winter and spring, while Jersey Cares collects costumes through early fall.
Volunteering ideas are endless in New Jersey. From outdoor activities to indoor opportunities, you’ll find the perfect match for your brood.
Some outdoor activities include:
Some indoor opportunities include:
To find other opportunities throughout New Jersey, log onto Idealist, The Governor's Office of Volunteerism or Volunteer Match.