I am thrilled today to have an awesome guest post from Holly of While I’m Waiting. For our Service Thursday challenge this week, she is going to give us lots of ideas of ways we can serve with our families. (I have a new idea in mind for my child who loves “center stage” …) I am so grateful for her creativity, her heart for service, and her enthusiasm to raise children who know how to serve (and who truly enjoy doing it).

One last reminder – tomorrow is the last day to enter our giveaway for Maxwell’s Soaps. Come check it out – it’s for a fantastic cause!

And now … here’s Holly!

 

Howdy!  My name is Holly from While I’m Waiting…  My husband, Mike, and I have been married almost eighteen years and we have three kiddos – Colby-age 13, Holden-age 10, and Hope-age 4.  We each have very different interests and hobbies but one of our favorite activities to do together as a family is volunteering!

A couple of questions I get asked all the time are 1) why do you serve so much, and
2) how do you have the time?  I’ll share the answers to these questions and a few things I’ve learned along the way!

First things first:  why do we serve?  That’s easy – because we can!

If we want our kids to grow up to be leaders in their community, then we must set an example for them now.  There are so many ways that kids of all ages can help!  It’s also a fabulous way to raise awareness of the needs in their community.  Kids that volunteer usually begin to show a greater interest in the needs of others because they see how they can help.  But, one of the biggest reasons we serve is because it’s fun!  We love getting a group of friends together and working on a project!  Most of the time our kids don’t even realize they are “volunteering”!

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Each summer our family volunteers at our local food bank.  This pic was from our first summer back in 2010 – literally, our kids have grown up volunteering there!

So, you’ve decided that you would like to give family volunteering a try.  Now what?  Start with something that interests your family and the interests of your kids.  If your kids need an activity they could clean up a local park or re-stock food at a pantry or food distribution site.

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If your kids enjoy more one-on-one activities, you could visit a nursing home and play bingo or work on crafts together.

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Do you kids adore center stage?  Let them play an instrument, sing a song, or read to others.

One of the most important things to remember when volunteering with kiddos – try not to focus on what they can’t do.  Determine what they can do and run with it!

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Meals on Wheels recipients love receiving laminated placemats created by kiddos!

A few other things to keep in mind when volunteering as a family:
+ schedule time to volunteer – This answers the question “how do you have the time to volunteer?”  Honestly, we don’t.  The kiddos are each involved with extra-curricular activities and Mike and I enjoy doing other things too.  But, volunteering is important to us and we found that we always find time for things that we really want to do.  If we schedule our volunteer time like any other appointment, practice, or class then we will make time for it.  Otherwise, it just gets pushed to the bottom of our list of things we would like to do.
+ choose a family charity – For us this was easy.  Our favorite place to volunteer is our local food bank.  By having this as our family philanthropy our kids are interested and invested in helping our community fight hunger.  For you it could be Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, or the local animal rescue group.  Find something that your family is passionate about and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
+ use holidays as an opportunity to serve – You can deliver handmade Valentines to your local nursing home, you can clean up a local park on Earth Day, or you can adopt a soldier and send them a box of goodies for the 4th of July.  The possibilities are endless!

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+ think about how you can serve in your neighborhood – You can water plants, sweep the sidewalk, pull weeds, or even walk the dog of a neighbor.  You can return trash cans from the street to each house for your block on trash day.  When baking or cooking, consider making extra and sharing with a neighbor or friend.
+ most of all – HAVE FUN!  Invite friends to serve with you!  You’ll make volunteering together a priority if everyone is having fun.

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This is one of my favorite pictures!  Hope was so tiny but she loved being able to help!  Proof that you’re never too young to serve!

Before you begin a project, it’s always a good idea to go over expectations with your kiddos:
+ explain what you will be doing
+ tell them how long it will take
+ talk to them about the needs that this job will fill and who will benefit from their help
+ explain the rules that they must follow
+ be patient – it’s ok if your kiddo checks out after an hour of a two hour shift
+ talk to them and explain why this is important to you
+ tell them what you’ll do afterwards – CELEBRATE!  We normally volunteer from 10am-12pm so lunch with friends is always a great reward for wrapping up another fun day of volunteering at the food bank!

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Establish a donation box or generosity jar at your home.  It’s an easy way to remind your kiddos to think about the needs of others.

And once a project is complete, ask for their feedback.
+ how do they think they made a difference?
+ what did they learn that they didn’t know before?
+ what did they like the most?
+ If your children are older, you can talk to them about additional ways they think they could help.  Kids have awesome ideas that we don’t think about as adults!

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Do you and your family volunteer together?  I love to be inspired by other families so if you have other ways that families can serve, please share with me!  And thank you so much, Kimber, for letting me share our passion with your readers!

For even more family service ideas, check out my Summer of Service challenge here! Each week I will share with you a new prompt for that week’s service challenge.  Join me on Instagram and tag your pictures with #soschallenge2015 so we can share and inspire each other to leave our mark on summer 2015!

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You can also follow me on Bloglovin’ so you don’t miss a post – it’s a super easy way to see what we’re up to while we wait… 🙂  I post a couple of times each week and also host a weekly link-up. I would love to have you visit!

Summertime is a great time to volunteer with your family – I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Have a blessed day!  Gig ’em and God bless!
Holly

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