Before I had children I used to volunteer hundreds of hours. It was a passion that started when I myself 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 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.
- Know your child – a child who hates being outside is not going to 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.
Parent/Child Volunteering Opportunities in Lake County IL
1125 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville | 847.377.7200
Winchester House is a nursing and rehab center that accepts all sorts of volunteers. “There are tailor-made experiences available for each volunteer group or individual. Our goal is to provide a positive experience for volunteers and residents. Whether your goal is short or long term volunteering, we welcome a chance to talk with you.” I have personally visited there with small children for trick-or-treating as well as summer playdates. This can be a great experience for children who don’t have grandparents near by. Contact them with the ages of your children to find a program that is best suited for you.
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 over can volunteer with families or in groups with adult chaperones. See 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 it’s 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 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 activity 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. 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 hold 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 2015 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.
- If you belong to a church or other worship community look for ways you can serve as a family. If your church houses PADS you could help pack lunches or serve dinner.
- Clean up a local park or even just 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 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 Solider.
Do you volunteer as a family? How? Where? Share it with us in the comments!