One of our favorite holiday traditions is planning how we want to give back to our community. Over the years we’ve volunteered and donated in many different ways. Here are my family’s top five favorite ways to volunteer with kids during the holidays.
Delivering Treats to Community Helpers
Learning about community helpers is part of the early elementary school curriculum in Arizona. These are the people who help our community run smoothly and safely – firefighters, police officers, medical professionals, construction workers, librarians, teachers, crossing guards, and so many more.
Once my daughter decides on which community helpers to surprise, we have fun browsing the Trader Joe’s aisle of seasonal snacks and pick out a bag full for each. While baking treats may seem like a great option, many of these helpers would probably prefer a store-bought treat for safety reasons.
Decorate the bag with stickers, drawings, or a big “THANK YOU!” note. Then, decide when to deliver it. Make sure to let your child have the opportunity to thank the helper for their service to the community.
Scottsdale Community Partners: Adopt a Family
Adopt a Family provides help for low income families living in Scottsdale. These families are screened by a City of Scottsdale employee. They then create a family bio and wish list. You can volunteer with kids by donating Thanksgiving food to the Vista Del Camino Food Bank, adopting an individual or family for the holidays, or by donating money.
My daughter loves it when we’re matched with a family that has a child close to her age. We’ve participated in Adopt a Family as a family, through my husband’s employer, and with a group of friends who all chipped in to make someone’s holiday season incredibly magical.
Arizona Helping Hands: Holiday Toy Drive
Another great way to volunteer with kids and give back to our community is by participating in Arizona Helping Hands’ Holiday Toy Drive. There’s nothing better than watching your own child thoughtfully pick a toy for another child.
Arizona Helping Hands collects donations year-round to help provide the essentials for children in foster care. Check out their website to see where their biggest needs are right now.
Feed My Starving Children
Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) is an organization that distributes food packs around the world. There are lots of ways to volunteer with kids at FMSC. Children five and older can volunteer at a packing event and see how their hard work can help make an impact. This is fun to participate in as a family or with a group of friends – check out the website for adult to child ratios before volunteering.
If you’re a family that prefers donating money, $0.24 buys one meal for a child. At FMSC, you can purchase a mini M&M tube – enjoy the treat, fill it with quarters, and exchange it on your next visit. This can be a great visual reminder for kids about how even one quarter makes such an impact in someone’s life.
If you’re looking for unique gift ideas, the FMSC Christmas Marketplace is worth checking out. Each item lists the country it was made in as well as how many meals the purchase will provide.
Visit Grayhawk’s Montevina Neighborhood
Going on a light drive may sound like an unusual way to volunteer with kids. Before you bundle up, make a stop at the grocery store to pick up some non-perishable food items.
Grayhawk’s Montevina Neighborhood becomes a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Before you enter, be sure to stop at their community cocoa hut for a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie. They’ll also have large donation bins for St. Mary’s Food Bank, so remember to bring a few non-perishable items or a cash donation.
Whether you prefer to slowly drive around the neighborhood or park and walk, you’re sure to be amazed by the displays these neighbors create.
Volunteer with Kids Even If Money is Tight
Whether your family has an abundance of money to share or you’re the family in need of a little help this year, finding ways to volunteer with kids during the holidays can make such a difference in your family.
If money is tight or you’d rather donate time than cash, consider:
- Making cards for community helpers
- Cleaning up your neighborhood
- Helping a neighbor bring in their trash and recycling containers
- Donating toys or clothes you no longer use
- Offering to help put up decorations for a friend or family member who may not be able to this year