I am so excited to be starting this new series with you, Volunteering With Kids. My husband and I are passionate about teaching our children to give back to our community and we want to do that in fun, safe, engaging ways. It's also very important to us that we start this practice during the early years, so that it becomes a lifelong practice for them. I've done a lot of research on ways we can help them learn while also giving back to our community, which after all is our ultimate goal and I'm excited to share with you what I've found.
The Ronald McDonald House will kick off this series because it is a place that is so near and dear to my heart. I love everything that they do and over the years my husband and I have volunteered there with our employers (funny I was volunteering with the CEO of Huntington one time and I didn't even know it - my husband had to tell me and I was the one that worked there haha), donated pop tabs and wish list items, and encouraged others to donate their time and resources here, but nothing is quite like volunteering with your kids. I've noticed, over the last few years of doing this with our kids, that they genuinely love helping others and it comes so natural for them. The questions they ask come with such compassion for others and I love that. I love that they care enough to ask the question as well as being respectful while asking what can sometimes be a difficult question.
The Ronald McDonald House offers many ways that you can get involved, and most are very family friendly. They have a published wish list you can shop from so that would be easy for the kids with the opportunity to talk to them about the needed supplies, why The Ronald McDonald House would need those supplies, and other questions your kids come up with. You can collect pop tabs as a family and turn them in when your bag gets full, put snack packs together at home and then take them to the house, and if your child is old enough you can make a blanket with them for the house. The Ronald McDonald House puts those blankets in their welcome bags so the kids can have a piece of comfort while at the home.
My family and I love to bake fresh, homemade, goodies for the home in one of the many kitchens they have in the dining area. I've spoke with families who have spent time at the house and the fresh baked goods were always a welcomed treat after a long day at the hospital. I know it's not much but if it helps one person smile, that's all that matters. Volunteering at the house also allows my kids to see the people they are helping, and that can be very helpful in teaching children to give back. Not because it makes them feel good or makes them feel bad for others but because it's takes a normally abstract thought (donating toys to other kids for example) and puts faces and personalities to the recipients and for kids that can be very beneficial.
When we bake we typically bake a variety of items including
Rice Krispie Treats
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Chocolate Chips Cookies
These items are quick and easy to make in the two hour time slot as well as easy to bag in the individual Ziploc baggies they request you put the treats in, for easy and safe handling.
Some easy ways to guide the conversation after volunteering with your kids include open ended questions so they can have the floor to share with you all of their thoughts. First start by talking about what they did, what they thought about it, and how it made them feel. Let them guide the conversation and be willing and open to discuss any questions they may have. The questions may be hard to explain, at times, but it's important to follow up your activity by having these conversations.
Enjoy some of our pictures from our latest trip to The Ronald McDonald House. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram to follow their journey and be the first to hear about new and exciting things happening there.
You can learn all about the super awesome shirts we're wearing here.