If you are looking to do something special with your child, consider the value of spending time instead of spending money. There are many volunteer opportunities throughout New York City perfect for parents and children to do together. Volunteering as a family has many benefits, including enhancing a child’s development, collectively gaining new skills and spending quality time together. Give one of these opportunities a try, and see how good it feels to give.
Offered through the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, Green Teens is a program that encourages teens to learn the value of recycling and take pride in their neighborhood parks, recreation centers and communities. From protecting the environment to beautification projects, this is a great opportunity for teens to learn respect for the planet and local parks. Teens must be 13 to 17 years old to participate.
American Red Cross
The American Red Cross offers myriad volunteer opportunities to teens ages 13 and up. From helping with mass mailings for fundraising events to helping out with various other projects, the Red Cross is a great way for teens to connect with the community. In fact, many high schools offer a Red Cross Club, which is a great way for kids to develop leadership skills, assist with service projects, prepare for disasters and build a strong social network. If your child’s school does not already offer a club, the Red Cross will offer training and support in opening a new chapter.
Citymeals on Wheels
If your family has a special interest in caring for the city’s elderly population, Citymeals on Wheels is a great opportunity for you. Not only will you deliver and serve meals at the city’s senior centers, but you will also offer companionship and assistance. Children can help seniors write their biographies, teach computer skills, or even lead classes on everything from arts to exercise. There is no minimum age to volunteer, so this is a great thing for any family to do together.
Food Bank for New York City
The Food Bank for New York City requires lots of volunteers to help run things smoothly. From helping with packaging to working in the community kitchen and food pantry, there are many opportunities to assist the city’s less fortunate. What a great way for your kids to learn to appreciate the things they have. Kids who are interested in food preparation will enjoy preparing meals for others – and may learn some helpful kitchen skills to boot. Any age group can volunteer, although some programs have age restrictions.
New York Cares
New York Cares, which was founded in the late ‘80s, focuses on bringing about social change through volunteerism. This organization — which conducts volunteer programs for 1,300 agencies throughout the city — offers a wide variety of projects to choose from. Your family can help out with a one-time project or event, or get involved in something more long term. One big event is the twice-yearly service days, which focus on park cleanups, community garden plantings and the refurbishing of public spaces. The Teen Service Program is designed to help teens get involved in improving their communities. Your family is sure to find something that everyone can agree on while making life in the city a little brighter.
Volunteering is a great way for you and your kids to feel a real connection to your community. It can even develop an interest in your child for a specific cause and they may want to continue support through fundraising efforts like buying cufflinks for charity or other purchases. At any rate, you will spend fun time together working for a cause you believe in, which is a great way to strengthen family and community bonds. It’s a win-win for everyone.