Before I had children, I used to volunteer hundreds of hours. It was a passion that started when I was just a child and volunteered at our local fire station, putting together coloring books. Since that first experience, I have done everything from dancing at nursing homes to volunteering at hospitals and leading fundraisers. The passion for helping others and giving back to our community is something I want to instill and grow in my children.
One of my local resolutions this year is to do more local volunteering. I have done some crowdsourcing and put together this list of ideas and locations where you can volunteer as a family or with small children.
Volunteering with your Children
Tips for Volunteering with Children
Before I dive into the list a few tips:
- Know your child – a child who hates being outside will not enjoy or get anything out of helping at an outdoor clean-up.
- Try to involve your children in the planning. If you can choose something they are interested in or enjoy, they will be more apt to go along.
- Lower your expectations. As with everything that involves our children, we tend to make these grand ideas in our heads without the wills and whims of small children in mind. A failed attempt, or a smaller attempt than you planned, isn’t a failure and still lays the groundwork for future endeavors.
While I have done some outdoor clean-up events with children as young as two years, I would recommend age 5 and up as being ideal. When available, I have listed the recommended ages with the groups.
Family Volunteering Opportunities in Lake County IL
Northern Illinois Food Bank
North Suburban Center, 440 Keller Drive, Park City
Weekday shifts available Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Saturday shift is 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Volunteers are needed to help with sorting and packing. Children age 8 and older can volunteer with families or in groups with adult chaperones. See the website to register for times.
Bernie’s Book Bank
28101 N. Ballard Dr., Unit A, Lake Forest | 847-780-READ (7323)
Bernie’s Book Bank welcomes volunteers of all ages and abilities to its processing center. Groups of more than 8 are asked to please contact them to set up a time. Volunteers under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Volunteers sort, sticker, and bag collections of books for at-risk youth. Drop-in Volunteer hours are available Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. See the website for specific times and more information.
Lake County Forest Preserve District
The LCFPD has many opportunities for families to volunteer. These are mostly warmer weather restoration activities best suited for older children. Projects can include pulling invasive plants, picking up garbage, or planting. See the LCFPD website for information and specific opportunities for families.
Feed my Starving Children
742 East Park Ave (Highway 176), Libertyville | 847-984-33846
Loralie gave you the full details on volunteering with kids at FMSC. The minimum age for volunteering is 5. It’s recommended that groups of children be in at least 3rd grade.
United Way of Lake County
The United Way of Lake County holds several community volunteer events a year including their annual Family Beach clean-up and book drive. Watch their web page or sign up for their newsletter to be notified of upcoming dates.
Volo Bog State Natural Area
Site restoration is done year-round and families are welcome to attend. In warmer weather, families and older children can help in the new children’s interpretive garden. Contact the Friends of Volo Bog or call the bog at 815-344-1294 for more details.
Other ways to give back as a family:
- If you belong to a church or other worship community, look for ways to serve as a family. If your church houses PADS, you could help pack lunches or serve dinner.
- Clean up a local park or even pick up trash on your block.
- Bake treats and bring them to your local police or fire station for the officers on duty.
- Sign-up for The Kindness Connection.
- Make something for the Message of Hope Foundation. They have collected rainbow loom bracelets, cards, or bookmarks that even little ones can color.
- Send kids drawing, pictures or letters to soldiers through Any Soldier.
Do you volunteer as a family? How? Where? Share it with us in the comments!
The Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire offers family service project opportunities nearly every month. Our most recent was on Martin Luther King Jr National Day of Service. Watch our online calendar, @VernonKids Twitter account, or subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming opportunities. Our programs are free and open to all; we do not require that you have a Vernon Area Public Library card to participate.