Instill a sense of awareness, compassion and purpose through volunteering

Volunteering as a family or a parent with child not only provides for quality time together that positively impacts your local community, but also delivers many added benefits for you and your children.

Volunteering can lead to discussions that help youth understand their broader community and the issues/struggles within (i.e. food insecurity, homelessness, abuse, etc.) and how each person can make a difference. Giving time to help others–even responsibilities as simple as yard work for a neighbor or spending time with seniors at a retirement home–provides youth with a greater sense of awareness of and compassion for others.

Volunteering also delivers a sense of purpose. For adults and children alike, it feels good knowing you can positively contribute to your community. That emotional boost or passion regarding a specific interest/initiative, can also boost one’s desire to continue volunteering in the long term. Additionally, youth who volunteer have the opportunity to develop new skills that can be transferable to school, jobs and personal life such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, organization and leadership.

So, if volunteering time as a family together sounds like something you’d like to try, here are some ideas of how to get started and where to look for opportunities.

Time commitment

Determine how much time you can devote. Think carefully about your current commitments and offer only the amount of time that feels comfortable to you. You can start small by helping with a single project or a couple hours per week and increase as your comfort level and schedules allow.

Best fit

Find the right opportunity. Talk with your child(ren) about their interests and what type of work might be available for their age groups. Examples include yard work or walking dogs for older adults, meal delivery, kitchen assistance or preparing diaper/hygiene kits. Look to local churches and food banks that are always in need of helpers—and provide eye-opening insight into the needs of our community.

Sue Schafer, volunteer services program manager with the City of Fort Collins, says “It can be difficult to find volunteer opportunities for kids younger than 16 due to safety concerns. However, there are things families can do such as our Pick it up FoCo trash cleanup program that offers a step-by-step guide including a safety video, tips, maps and the Litterati app for challenges.” Check out Pick it up FoCo at

Schafer also suggested families volunteer at their school “as a great way to instill that sense of taking care of their community…and perhaps National Trails Day every June or National Public Lands Day in the fall, or other events families can do together in a group.”

However you go about it, enjoy the time together making the world a better place.

Youth who volunteer often gain:

  • Greater sense of awareness of and compassion for others
  • Sense of purpose
  • Transferable skills such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, organization and leadership

Find the Fit

You can search city, town, county or individual nonprofit agency sites for available volunteer opportunities

For local online United Way organizations, filter your search by “family-friendly” options or specific age, interest, local initiative, etc. Also look for Family Volunteer Day that occurs every fall.