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Everywhere you look there are people in need. There are homeless people standing on the corners, single moms barely scraping by, elderly neighbors struggling to carry their groceries, preschoolers struggling to tie their shoes. There are always opportunities to serve others.
The truth is, we all need help sometimes. Whether it’s a few extra bucks or just a reassuring hug, we all rely on others to help us out.
I desperately want my kids to have a compassionate heart to serve others. I want them to jump at the chance to help someone or to spend time with people who need a friend.
A few years ago we started volunteering at our local food bank. The kids help pack boxes for the families and greet them with a smile when they come to pick up their food.
On more than one occasion, they’ve seen people they know, picking up a box of food. We use these times as good learning lessons. It allows us an opportunity to talk about how sometimes people who work hard just need a little help during difficult times. We discuss how, even though the kids appear to have everything they need, they may actually come from struggling families and may not only need food but also a friend. Most of all, we learn to keep our loud mouths shut and not tell others about who was seen getting a food box.
Seeing people, from all walks of life, who have humbled themselves enough to ask for help is touching.
Yes, there are people who drive WAY nicer cars than we do who get a free box full of food. And just because they drive a nice car, doesn’t mean they don’t need help. You never know who has just been fired from their job, who has left their home to come and stay with their dying mother or who has lost their husband.
We’ve met a couple of 70 year old ladies who live down by the creek, in their car. (I don’t think they were parked near Chris Farley‘s van, down by the river.) We’ve met recovering addicts, single moms, injured fathers and people who have just hit a standstill in their life and need some help.
Just seeing people from all different walks of life, and having the opportunity to visit with them has made a huge difference in our lives.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are 6 additional reasons you should teach your child to volunteer and serve others:
Learn Leadership Skills:
Having a child who can stand up and get things done is awesome! Watching your teen take charge and delegate jobs to others makes a parent proud. While volunteering, kids will learn to take charge and get stuff done. Help them achieve this by starting small. Give them an easy task to accomplish by themselves. Once they’ve completed it, give them a harder job. Soon, they’ll know the ropes well enough to simply do a job because it needs done, not because they were asked to do it.
Learn Responsibility and Work Ethic:
Trust me, your kids will see struggling families. They’ll want to be more responsible than the people they are serving. Whether it means that they will keep a job, live within their means or stay away from “troublesome” situations is hard to know. But there’s no doubt, they’ll be impacted and want to be more responsible. By volunteering regularly, they’ll also form a great work ethic. Week after week, having a place to be at a certain time is a great habit for kids to learn. They’ll learn that others rely on them and are counting on their help. This will teach your kiddos to become responsible helpers.
We count cans of peas, packages of meat, loafs of bread and hundreds of other things. These are the perfect learning opportunities for the younger kids in your crew. There is always an opportunity to count, read or write when helping out at the food bank. Not to mention you’ll gain mad “bagging” skills when trying to fit all the food into the boxes. Tetris doesn’t have a thing on a couple of kids trying to carefully cram all the food into one box.
People love to see kids volunteering. They love to sit and talk about anything and everything. Kids will hear stories from generations past, laugh about the good ol’ days and impress the elderly with their unconventional education. The kids will love getting to know the people they work with and the people they serve. Contrary to popular belief, kids can socialize with people other than kids their same age. 😉
Boost That Resume:
As if putting the word “Homeschool” isn’t impressive enough, when you put your volunteer history on a job or college application, you’re bound to see results. Companies and college know that homeschoolers are disciplined and motivated when it comes to school work, but to see a youngster who has put in time to help others is unique. You’re sure to stand out in the mass of applicants when they see your selfless work ethic.
In our hard-nosed world, it’s hard for kids to discover compassion. It’s truly one of the most overlooked quality of many people. While it doesn’t come naturally to some, you might have to help you child find compassion. It takes time and sometimes practice to help children look at the world through another’s eyes. By teaching them compassion at a young age, we are literally changing the future, beginning within the walls of our own home.
I took my kids to Crosslines, hoping to teach them hard work and to learn to serve others. Not only do we learn math, manners and organization skills but more importantly, we learn compassion while we serve others.
And I think that is one thing that we all could use a little bit more of.