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Safe Ways For Your Kid To Volunteer This Thanksgiving

Since food banks and serving at food kitchens is out, you need some new service ideas for children.

For many families, Thanksgiving will look a lot different this year. But while travels plans have likely been postponed and there may be fewer guests around the dinner table, the spirit of giving thanks remains the same (and may feel stronger than ever). It's never too early to teach your children the importance of giving back, and no better time than Thanksgiving. But how can kids volunteer safely for Thanksgiving?

With so many COVID-19 protocols in place, many food banks and shelters have temporarily suspended volunteer assistance, but there are still plenty of ways your child can give back in a meaningful way. First, involve your child in the decision. Talk about what they'd like to do and how they think they could be of service. If your child loves to draw, maybe sending cards might be a good idea. If your child has become a wiz at the computer thanks to online learning and Zoom calls with grandparents, perhaps setting up an online fundraiser is the way to go. Whatever you decide, make sure your child understands why you're giving back. Instilling the importance of being thankful and the larger feeling of living in a global community will set them up for a lifetime of empathy, service, and counting their blessings.

Check out my suggestions below, and Happy (early) Thanksgiving!


Make A Card For A Child In The Hospital

It's awful to be in the hospital at any time, but especially around the holidays. Cards for Hospitalized Kids is a non-profit organization that collects cards and distributes to children in hospitals and Ronald McDonald Centers around the country (over 14,000 so far). Simply create your cards (see their website for helpful info) and mail to their address; they'll take care of the rest! What a great feeling to know you'll be making a sick child's day when she or he opens their card. (And support the USPS.)


Donate A Toy To A Child In Need

Is your child already thinking about Christmas? Why not consider a toy donation? This season, Donate a Toy is teaming up with Toys for Tots to distribute gifts to children in need. Even better? Every toy given will be matched by Donate a Toy. This incredible generosity will make your shopping even more fun, and they make it super simple with the ability to purchase directly from their website. Smiles all around this holiday season, and kids really do love picking things out to gift others.


Start An Online Fundraiser

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Feeding America is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feeds more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. Your tech-savvy child can help collect donations by creating a Feeding America online fundraiser. Raise awareness and dollars for a crucially important non-profit organization and feel great at the same time.


Bring Groceries To An Elderly Neighbor

The elderly have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic. What about checking in with an elderly neighbor to see if you can help them with anything? Picking up a few groceries or going on an errand would be so helpful, and this is a tangible way for your child to see the direct and positive response to their volunteer efforts. You could also make them a Thanksgiving dish and drop it off with social distancing so they can still enjoy the holiday.


Volunteer At A Local Animal Shelter

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If your child is an animal lover, check with your local animal shelter to see if they are currently taking volunteers (at some shelters, kids are allowed to help walk dogs, refill water bowls, and give out toys and treats). If not, there may be other ways your child can help, like fostering or adopting a rescue animal (although this may take a little convincing). If bringing a pet home isn't quite what you had in mind, Peta Kids offers some additional great ideas for kids who want to help animals in shelters. Easiest one ever? Being kind to every animal you meet. Seems like that's good life advice, too.