Holiday Volunteering with Kids in NJ
So often we are pulled in so many different directions from work to school to social activities, family togetherness gets put onto the back burner. It's awesome to do holiday activities together, but one sure way to help stay connected is for parents and kids to volunteer for community projects. Not only will volunteering create a positive learning experience, but will teach compassion, create a sense of pride and foster the value of community service.
Pick a Family Favorite
What is your family passionate about? Nature? Animals? Religion? By focusing on what matters most to your brood, you will more likely engage your children.
Many New Jersey organizations depend on volunteers and individual financial support to operate, including Table to Table. As a local food rescue program, Table to Table collects prepared and perishable food that would otherwise be wasted and delivers it to organizations that serve the hungry in Bergen, Hudson, Essex and Passaic counties. Working with more than 150 local food donors, including Trader Joe’s, A&P and ShopRite, Table to Table organizes the pick-up and delivery of fresh, healthy meals to 70+ community organization.
Table to Table is extraordinarily efficient with no storage or warehouse; therefore, all of their trucks are empty at the end of each day. This organization's operation runs solely on fundraising efforts. In lieu of a holiday gift this season, make a donation in someone’s honor.
Whether is a worn towel or an extra tube of toothpaste, many items can be donated to local organizations. Not only is it a valuable lesson on giving, but you are also teaching your children to re-purpose household items. By simply calling a local organization, you can find out the many items they need on a daily basis. Create family time by cleaning out closets, organizing donations, scraping together allowance money and dropping off these items together.
Local animal shelters, including PAWS Montclair and the Secaucus Animal Shelter, have supply wish lists. From garbage bags to paper towels; dog food to cat toys these shelters need community support to thrive and succeed.
Reach Out and Read, along with many libraries, welcome donations of used books. Instead of recycling your monthly magazines, drop them off to a hospital or nursing home. You can also check with your child’s teacher or local daycare to use for future art project. By creating a regular practice, this will teach your children to donate all year around.
Second Chance Toys accepts used toys (plastic only) that are clean and still in working order. Search Second Chance Toys’ website for drop off locations. If you are feeling extra motivated, this organization will also help you arrange toy drive if you collect 50+ toys. Please note, collections are only conducted during April for Earth Week and December for the holidays.
Jersey Cares is hosting its 18th annual coat drive until February 7, 2014. Click here to find a list of public drop off sites. Family opportunities are also available to host a collection site or sort donations. In addition, Jersey Cares is hosting Frosty Friends, a holiday gift fulfillment program for children in shelters or transitional housing facilities.
From prom dresses to Halloween costumes, many second hand items can be put to good use. Catherine’s Closet collects prom dresses and shoes during the winter and spring, while Jersey Cares collects costumes through early fall.
Volunteering ideas are endless in New Jersey. From outdoor activities to indoor opportunities, you’ll find the perfect match for your brood.
Some outdoor activities include:
- Planting trees in underserved communities with The New Jersey Tree Foundation
- Be a time keeper or serve lunch at a Special Olympics event
- Fundraise and walk together at a local 5K
- Deliver clothing and toiletries to the homeless through Bridges Outreach
Some indoor opportunities include:
- Sort items at the Food Bank of New Jersey
- Visit a Veterans Home facility and provide companionship
- Serve meals at the Community Soup Kitchen of Morristown
- Host a bake sale for the Make-A-Wish Foundation
- Work together as Literacy Volunteers (22 locations are available)