Lending a Hand

Finding ways to "give back" as a family can be fun—and rewarding—for 'tweens and parents alike.

Volunteer Work for Kids

Each year as the holidays roll around, many families think about how to help others—either in their hometown or in countries half a world away. Giving freely of our time and resources connects us to others, and also makes us more appreciative of what we have.

Many adoptive families want to give back to their child’s orphanage, or to the adoption community in general. Volunteering together to do this can be a fun experience that strengthens ties between family members and celebrates the special way our families were created.

It can also provide nine- to 12-year-old adoptees an opportunity to connect with other kids—near and far—who are waiting for permanent families or who have fewer resources than they do.

Where to Begin

There are many ways to volunteer, but one way to pique your child’s interest is to choose an activity that involves something your family loves. My family shares a fondness for animals, so, each year, we foster kittens and puppies who’ve been separated by misfortune from their mothers. We bottle-feed, clean, and nurture these animals around the clock, until they are able to eat on their own and move on to permanent families.

Over the years, my two daughters have grown to understand the importance of a warm and secure early life for “babies,” and to comprehend how it is possible to love completely and then let go.

As a family, you can volunteer with religious groups, adoption agencies, or nonprofit programs (such as Head Start or the Boys & Girls Clubs of America). Before you begin, be realistic about how much of your time and resources you’re willing to commit—then let your imagination run free!

Here are a few ideas for volunteer work for kids that will get your family started:

  • Is your family passionate about sports? If so, organize a fund-raiser to buy tickets to sports events or athletic equipment for underprivileged kids or those in foster care. Contact your local child welfare organization or Boys & Girls Clubs of America for partnership ideas.
  • Does your family have strong ties to an overseas orphanage or local adoption agency? Find out what it needs, and team up with other families to get the necessary items. You can also organize a fund-raising event—with ethnic foods, crafts, folk dancing, and music—to benefit the orphanage or agency. Advertise the event in local newspapers, adoption agency newsletters, or through your child’s school.
  • Does your family feel committed to helping in your own hometown? Set up a donation box at your church or synagogue to collect nonperishable items to replenish local food banks.
  • Offer to drive for Meals on Wheels for a day or to deliver holiday baskets with your kids. Find out the ages of children in recipient families, and add a special treat to the basket—just from you.

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