With summer break just around the corner, many of us are looking for ways to keep our kids busy during the long summer hours. While family vacations and summer camps will fill much of their time, kids will inevitably utter the words, “I’m bored” before the new school year rolls around. There are plenty of things we can offer our kids to fill the hours of boredom, but few offer as many rewards as volunteering.
Volunteering not only serves the community at large, but it teaches our children the value of giving back with their time, energy, and resources. Through volunteering, we have the chance to give our kids a broader perspective on the world – opening their eyes to the needs of others, as well as to the many blessings they already have in their own lives. In fact, many parents find that volunteering is one of the best ways that we can teach gratitude while instilling lifelong values of generosity and empathy.
The Richmond area offers ample opportunities for volunteering. However, if you’ve spent time looking for volunteer spots for younger children, you’ve probably found that many places have age restrictions. So as we began our search to find the best places for kids to volunteer this summer, we wanted to make sure that each of our options offered the following:
- Opportunities for all ages
- A range of causes
- Opportunities for both on-site and at-home action
The following five organizations in the Richmond area met our criteria and offered us inspiration, not only for the summer, but for the entire year.
With these five outstanding organizations, you and your family will have a range of options for volunteering this summer. Take part as a family, or let your kids lead the charge. No matter how you choose to approach it, you’ll find that volunteering not only keeps the summer boredom at bay, but it enriches the lives of everyone involved.
Take a look at our five favorite Richmond volunteering opportunities for kids and if you know of an organization that offers family-friendly volunteering activities, then be sure to let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Cause: Special Needs
For the last 50 years, the Special Olympics has been empowering people with special needs by offering athletic events all over the nation and around the world. In fact, there are more than 5 million Special Olympics athletes in 172 countries. From smaller local events to larger annual Olympic games, Special Olympics is one of the most well-known organizations on our list. And we are fortunate to have the Special Olympics Virginia main office located right here in Richmond. This summer, we are even more fortunate to be hosting the annual Special Olympic Games at the University of Richmond on June 8 – 9, 2018. The events will start with the Opening Ceremony on Friday, June 8 and will be followed up on June 9 with the first-ever Solar Plunge and the games themselves.
How you can get involved: With the 2018 games taking place here in Richmond, you and your entire family can easily attend to cheer on the more than 1,500 athletes competing or take part in the Solar Plunge. However, with opportunities available all year round all over Virginia, there are countless ways to be active in this amazing organization. Click here to see other volunteer opportunities, check below to see examples of opportunities, or visit the Special Olympics Virginia calendar to find out what’s happening near you. And of course, anyone and everyone can be a fundraiser. From running a lemonade stand to hosting a birthday party or other special event in honor of the Special Olympics, kids of all ages can be advocates for athletes around the world.
Age: 14+ (can be younger if accompanied by an adult or chaperone)
Event Volunteers are one or two-day volunteers who help with competition and fundraising events by assisting with set-up and clean-up, event logistics, competitions, scorekeeping, awarding, etc. To learn the volunteer age requirement find Special Olympics near you and contact your Area leadership or Region Director.
Volunteer 2 Cheer Fan
Age: All ages
Volunteer fans of all ages are encouraged to support Special Olympic athletes at state-level, regional, and local competitions all over Virginia, all year round. Volunteer 2 Cheer is a great way to inspire today’s youth to become tomorrow’s volunteer leader. Visit volunteer2cheer.com to sign up – no set time commitment required.
Unified Sports® teams include people with and without intellectual disabilities in an effort to shatter stereotypes through positive interaction on the playing field. Find out if Unified Sports are offered near you and become a Unified Partner, locate Special Olympics near you. Unified Partners must be at least 8 years old and are required to complete the Class A process. There is about a two hour/week commitment for each 8-10-week season.
Cause: Foster Care
Connect Our Kids is a Virginia-based non-profit organization with offices in Richmond and Falls Church. Their mission is to create a better placement system for children in the foster care system by utilizing high-end technology to streamline the placement process. Not only will this make systems more efficient for dedicated social workers, but it will result in better matches for children looking for a family to love and care for them. Ultimately, Connect Our Kids aims to help the more than 400,000 children currently in foster care find forever homes.
How you can get involved: Connect Our Kids offers a wide variety of ways for kids of all ages to volunteer. Opportunities include hosting fundraisers (lemonade stands, bake sales, birthday parties, community events, etc.), raising funds and awareness as an Ambassador, giving a tax-deductible gift, sharing talents and skills as a direct volunteer, shopping AmazonSmile, or becoming a Friend of Connect Our Kids and sharing their important mission with your friends and social media networks. Request a Connect Our Kids Communication Toolkit by emailing Hello@ConnectOurKids.org or click here to learn more about their many volunteer opportunities.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved right away, be sure to check out #ProjectMyFavoriteThing. Children are asked to make a short video describing their favorite thing about their mom or dad followed by a brief explanation as to why they think every child should have the opportunity to have a parent as wonderful as theirs. These videos are then shared on social media as a means of spreading awareness about the hundreds of thousands of foster kids who need loving families. If you would like to participate in #ProjectMyFavoriteThing, email Jessica@connectourkids.org for complete instructions and a copy of the #ProjectMyFavoriteThing permission slip.
Cause: Low-income Housing/Homelessness
With offices all over the country, Habitat for Humanity provides housing for families in need. Here in Richmond, Habitat for Humanity offers countless volunteer opportunities, regardless of age or skill level. From actual hands-on building projects to activities at home or with a group, you and your family can play a vital role in improving the lives of those who face housing crises.
How you can get involved: Habit for Humanity offers incredible opportunities for youth involvement starting with their Habi Kids program. Habi Kids is a yearlong youth engagement program that provides volunteer opportunities each month for kids ages 5 to 18. Activities include Leadership Summits for teens, LEGO home building events that teach about Habitat for Humanity’s vital work, Youth Summer Volunteer Weeks, and more. For a complete list of monthly activities, click here. But the opportunities don’t stop there! Habit for Humanity offers Youth Project Ideas that range from making lunch bags for volunteers to writing thank you notes to creating “Welcome Home” baskets for new homeowners. See a complete listing of upcoming events and opportunities here.
Habitat for Humanity – Richmond
2281 Dabney Rd, Suite A
Richmond, VA 23230
Information about Youth Programs: Whitney Guthrie, Director of Community Engagement, email@example.com
The Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) provide low-cost accommodations for families with a loved one in the hospital. Located in cities throughout the country, RMHC houses create a home away from home, offering meals, activities, and comfort during difficult times. Many of the families who use RMHC housing have had to travel long distances and are caring for family members in long-term hospital care. The services they provide not only make a difficult experience easier for many families, but they help to alleviate financial burdens.
How you can get involved: Volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House in Richmond come in all shapes and sizes. If you are interested in volunteering as a group or family, you can provide meals, help at special events, or help out around the house itself performing simple chores and yard work. While minors do need to be accompanied by an adult when volunteering onsite, there are many other ways for kids of all ages to be part of special offsite fundraisers, activities and events such as assembling snack bags for guests, creating activity packs for children staying at the house, holding a “wish list” drive at your home or school, collecting “pop tops,” collecting change (nickels, dimes, and pennies add up!) and much more. Find organized volunteer opportunities here or discover other ways to help.
Cause: Children Fighting Cancer
While Anthem’s annual LemonAid program doesn’t offer the same year-round opportunities as our other options, it’s the perfect way to get your kids involved during the summer – and inspire them to stay involved throughout the year. Every year, Anthem hosts lemonade stands throughout the Richmond area, providing all of the supplies, then donating 100% of all funds raised to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU to help kids who are fighting cancer.
How you can get involved: Anthem LemonAid is simple. All you and your family have to do is sign up to host a LemonAid stand between Friday, July 20 and Sunday, July 22, 2018, and Anthem will provide all of the supplies. All registered volunteers will receive lemonade mix, cups, a pitcher, a banner, stickers, and sunglasses. Best of all, this incredible project can happen anywhere – at your home, at a neighborhood park or pool, or even outside of a local business. Your kids will hand out cups of lemonade in exchange for donations, giving them the chance to actively encourage participation and donations from their “customers.” They can also set up an online fundraising page to raise even more. At the end of the day, your kids can not only feel empowered themselves, but they can know that they are truly making a difference for children their own age who are fighting life-threatening illnesses.
We hope that you and your family will feel inspired to volunteer with one of these incredible organization this summer or any time throughout the year. In the meantime, if you would like to see a complete list of volunteer opportunities for kids and youth in the Richmond area, be sure to visit our complete Guide to Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Richmond.