Last week, I asked for your suggestions about family volunteer opportunities and you didn't disappoint! I'm looking forward to running down your leads for one of my upcoming columns, but in the meanwhile take a look at the amazing group of women I have had the privilege to *meet* here on the Ark. Your generous spirit and your commitment to teaching your children that it is better to give than receive will benefit them AND society at large. How wonderful that there are families like yours, raising civic-minded, caring, helpful children in the world today!
Ready to vote? Read the suggestions below. Then, click on your favorites in the sidebar poll! Voting will end on July 16th! Thanks for playing.
#1-There is a local food pantry that we can help out at. They really need help to check out all the exp. dates and get rid of the bad/old ones. They also need help to organize and stock the shelves. Even our little ones can help do these things. It does not take a long time and they rejoice in the fun of it and how we can help our neighbors in need. From MomDaBomb
#2-We have all helped with the Boy Scouts' "Scouting for Food" program. It takes place over 2 weekends. On the first weekend, plastic bags are distributed (we did this at church, after Mass). Let me tell you, our little guy's cuteness went a long way as the kids handed out the grocery bags! The next week was "collection week." People would bring their filled bags back to church. Scouts & Scout families were waiting at each door, putting bags into wagons. The wagons were then taken to the truck at the back of the parking lot, and items were sorted for donation. From SFO Mom
#3-We make and deliver bag lunches for the local homeless shelter. This means buying the food, assembling the sandwiches, assembling the rest of the lunch, and delivering it to the shelter. The little ones help assemble the lunches, the middle ones the sandwiches, and the biggest do quality control and loading and unloading. I think I 'll have them start help with the shopping (my job) and the delivering. From Mary Poppins NOT
#4-We helped package food at Feed My Starving Children (locations in Minn and Chicago's western suburb of Aurora). Great for kids (over 5) and adults. From Anne Marie
#5-Whenever our parish hosts the local PADS shelter (usually every third month or so), we provide two 5 lb meatloaves and four dozen cupcakes. The kids know why we are shopping for this special trip, how it is helps people who are having a difficult time helping themselves, and how every little bit helps. From Laura Miller
#6-We have also made treat bags at Christmas for the shelter with candy and small encouraging notes. We have made Valentines for the sisters at the convent. We then deliver the food/gifts/cards to the places to receive them. There is a completeness to the act, seeing the place where their tangible efforts will be appreciated. My children don't hand the items out personally - for their safety and anonymity - but they are aware that such places exist (the homeless shelter). From Laura Miller
#7-We sponsor a child in Ethiopia through Compassion. I think that it isn't so much as the act of volunteering as it is the fruits of the spirit such as generosity and kindness. These acts will hopefully bring awareness to my children that they can do something to help others. From Laura Miller
#8-My husband, my oldest daughter and I are with the cathedral choir while my 4 other children are acolytes. From Easter A.
#9-Catholic family friends of ours are with a paddling group that welcomes low income families to become members. They clean our beaches to raise money to fix canoes and also to cover expenses of races. From Easter A.
#10-We are certified side walkers and lead-line walkers at a nearby therapeutic horseback riding stable. The training is simple (especially if one has any experience with horses).
My youngest is too young to be helping in any "official" capacity but he is certainly old enough to visit with the riders as they wait for their lessons. It turns out that he knows a youngster who is now riding. She is a brilliant little girl with severe cerebral palsy. There is plenty of need for volunteers in this kind of equestrian therapy. From Soutenus
#11-What we have done for several years is visit nursing homes as a family. If it is close to a holiday, the children will make several cards to bring that they hand out to the residents. It is easier to 'break the ice' for them. They introduce themselves and give them the card saying, "I made this for you" and then they can tell the person about the picture they made. If there is a piano at the facility, Claire will play a few songs. Andrew used to bring his violin as well and play a couple of songs. Often times we will just sing songs with hand motions...He's got the whole world in His hands....the wheels on the bus...etc... Sometimes we visit residents in their rooms and ask them if they would like us to pray with them. They usually do. They love to see the children especially the very little ones and will often start crying. You will bring SO MUCH JOY to some very lonely people. You will not believe how easy this is to do as a family! Thirty minutes of your time to bring smiles and tears of joy to others! From Simple, Ordinary Lives
#12-My favorite volunteer activity is a tough one--we pray as a family next to the abortion clinic. It's not the most cheerful of outings, granted, but my children are learning at an early age about the sanctity of life and that we are fighting a real battle here. From Minnesota Mom
#13-Our family helps run the church food pantry. All the children help with carrying donations and stocking shelves. We also organize an Easter Dinner basket with all the fixings for needy families. This is nice because little ones can be very active in this too by sorting and shelving:-) From Suzanne
#14-I have never done this but I thought that it would be a lovely idea. Have the kids all make cards for those soldiers who are stationed in Iraq. The older ones can help write for the younger ones. You can then pass them on to A MIllion Thanks a charity that gets letters of gratitude into the hands of soldiers who are fighting in other countries. There is no cost involved! From Laura Danella
#15-My three oldest did lots of volunteer work when they were younger. When our oldest dd was 14 she and her two sibs would get up at 0'dark thirty every Saturday morning and I would drive them to the cathedral where they would get to cook and serve breakfast to the homeless. After they were done I would pick them up (had a newborn at home) and drive our 14 yr old dd to the abortion mill so she could pray with other adults. They did this for a year. From Michelle.
#16-The three also volunteered weekly with a Sister at a local nursing home. Sister Patricia had a music ministry on the Alzheimer's Ward. Our three kids helped with range of motion exercise, singing songs and bouncing balls with the residents. Afterwards the kids would go downstairs and pray the rosary in the chapel with other residents and then talk with them. From Michelle.
#17-Other volunteer activities: weekly soup kitchen, making Easter baskets for women at a halfway house, oldest dd went to Red Cross training with one of our Labs (became a therapy dog) and takes our dog to the nursing home for the residents to pet and play with our dog. Serving at mass, cleaning the church, decorating the church, assembling food/gift baskets at Thanksgiving/Christmas and delivering them. Visiting the sick/elderly of our church. *Adopting* grandparents in our church has been very rewarding for everyone involved. From Michelle.
#18-I almost forgot about the *sock ministry* that the kids and I do. Since it's difficult for me to get out of the house with so many littles and we need two vehicles for transportation (our van only seats 8), this is a great ministry for our family.
We purchase packages of brand new tube socks from the dollar store. Then we will them with items purchased from the grocery outlet: a can of chili (with a pop top) or beans & franks, a plastic spoon, napkins, a package of gummy fruit (has 100% Vitamin C), a small package of crackers, a package of hot cocoa or a tea bag. New toothbrushes w/covers (to keep bristles clean) are also added to the socks. The kids draw pictures and/or a holy card are also placed in the socks. Then as a family we pray for the recipients of the socks. We tie up the socks with string/twine and load them into the van. The socks are passed out to homeless on the street and donated to local soup kitchens. Below is a link to my blog with photos/descriptions of how we fill the socks.
Read more at Michelle's blog here.