You have all heard Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is grown, he will not depart from it.” This valuable lesson also applies to teaching our children about the joys of giving to others. There are many opportunities to volunteer and much need. How do we impart the importance of volunteering on our children? We lead by example.
Preschool is not too young to start your child helping you in your efforts. Retirement homes frequently welcome visitors. A young child can bring joy to those who are removed from them on a daily basis. Call first, then bring flowers to the elderly and sit down for a short visit. Maybe you will want to deliver meals to shut-ins through the Meals on Wheels program. I used to bring my infant to the door, when I brought a hot meal to someone’s home. They would beam at my sleeping daughter. “May I touch her?” they would ask, sweetly. It always brought joy to the elderly on my volunteer route.
Does your community have a program for the homeless? In our area, there is a program called Hospitality House. Various churches in our county provide meals and a safe place to sleep, during the coldest winter months. Good hearted people step up to provide a tasty buffet dinner. The churches provide a warm bed and shelter. My family has volunteered to serve meals to the homeless through this program. It is eye opening for our children to see the poverty in our own neighborhood. Their hearts are opened to the truth of those less fortunate.
Maybe you can ask your home church for opportunities to serve. Even if you bring your child to the church on a Saturday to clean up trash it is a good thing. You are showing them there is no such thing as menial labor. All work should be valued, because it takes all parts of the church body to function properly. Helping out, where needed, is key to success. A church could not function without its’ volunteers.
Twice a year, help your child sort through his/her clothing and toys. What clothes no longer fit? Which toys are sitting on the shelf, unused? As a family, take unneeded items to the local Hospice thrift store , Salvation Army or Goodwill. Explain that the money raised goes to help those in need . Praise your child’s generous gift to charity . It will encourage future giving.
Your child has special gifts and talents to share with the world. Take advantage of those skills to find the right volunteer “fit”. Does your child like animals? Ask the local animal shelter for ways to help. Maybe, you will want to raise a Seeing Eye dog. Your local 4-H program in your area should offer this unique volunteer opportunity. You child may want to sell lemonade and cookies, then donate the profits to buy books for your local library. If a neighbor falls ill, why not shovel their driveway or rake their leaves? Lifetime Adoption Foundation (helping women considering adoption and their children) is always seeking volunteers to assist. Call 1-530-432-7383 to sign-up.
Remember, our sons and daughters look to us as living examples of how to walk in the world. Our children need to grow up seeing the everlasting value of helping those less fortunate. They need to understand that even children can make a difference in the world. Show them how you live out your faith, by selflessly giving and sharing. Train up your child to volunteer and it will stay with him/her for life.
by A. Olsen