The Importance of Volunteering for Kids and Teens

teen volunteer, teens volunteering, charity work, charitable teens, giving backThis guest post is by Denine M. Anderson-Regan. She is a well-rounded Advertising and Marketing Manager with solid experience in web content writing and public relations. She has worked with several well-known companies including K. Van Bourgondien & Sons, Shop At Home, QVC, Better Homes & Gardens, Wal-Mart, Costco, FatWire Corporation, IBM, and Nathan’s Famous. Denine currently writes the blog, We Know Stuff, with her sister, Daniele H. Anderson Stringer.

During my childhood, my family survived two house fires, and miraculously, we were all left physically unharmed. But mentally – well, that was a different story…

When our homes burnt to the ground, we were left without food, money, clothing, or toys. And although we were incredibly grateful that we were alive, we couldn’t help but be saddened by our losses.

Before the fires, we lived very comfortable lives, and didn’t really think about those less fortunate than us, but afterwards, we were they less fortunate. It’s amazing at how fast your outlook on life can change.

So when the people in our community decided to help us, we were overcome with emotion. Friends, family and complete strangers joined together and set up donation bins in the schools to collect as many supplies as they could for our family.

Even now, I can see the excitement on our faces as we rummaged through the bags of collected goods to see what people had given us. I can still remember how happy I was when I found those shiny white sneakers that were just my size! Thankfully, the kindness of our community taught us early on what it meant to be a truly charitable person.

For this reason, I find it important to raise bighearted children, and I’m proud to say that my kids know that just one person can make a difference in this world – and that person can be any one.

So last year, we sat down as a family and focused on what charities we’d like to work with – and we only picked organizations that were kid-friendly, so that each of us could help make a difference. My kids are both under five, but they have already contributed to the organizations below by donating their shoes, clothing, toys, and piggy bank money.

So, in this day and age, where kids are glued to their iPhones, video games, and social media platforms – wouldn’t it be nice to show them that there are real-life people in the world who could truly benefit from a single act of kindness?
If you agree, then here are some ideas to get you and your family started. The organizations below are ones that I’ve had personal experiences with, and are really terrific. More importantly, they’re teen-friendly, so whether your teen prefers to do things alone, or in a large group, these charities offer different ways to make a difference.
Soles 4 Souls:
This noteworthy organization collects, donates and distributes shoes, both internationally and domestically, to millions of needy people. The beauty of this charity is that any one person can participate – even just one pair of shoes makes a difference.
We leave a big bin in my front hall closet and as each pair of shoes gets tired out, we toss them in the bin until a decent amount has been collected. Then we bring them to a drop-off location.
This charity is a great way for your teen to test the waters of charitable giving. Your teen can get involved by donating a pair of shoes, or go all the way and host a shoe drive at their school.

Heifer International:
If your teen is an animal lover, than this could be the perfect organization to get involved in. Heifer International strives to bring an end to hunger and poverty across the globe with gifts of livestock and training. This charity is great for teens because they get to see how one little gift can feed, or support, a family for years to come.

This past Christmas, we gave our kids Heifer’s gift catalog and let them pick out a gift of livestock to give to a family in need. Then we explained to them what their flock of chicks would do for this family.
This charity also has many ways to get involved. For example, they can go all out and set up a Read to Feed® fundraiser at school, or simply save twenty bucks from doing their chores, and send a flock of chicks, ducks, or geese, to a family in need.
Big Brothers Big Sisters:
This important organization provides at-risk children with supportive one-on-one relationships that change their lives forever. By matching adult volunteers, ages 18 and over, with children, ages 6-18, in communities across the country, they hope to help all children achieve great success in life.

Although this organization requires that “Bigs” be at least 18 years old, younger teens can also help out by donating their unused goods to the charity. This past fall, we cleaned out our closets, and donated bags of gently used clothing and toys.
If your teen is 18, becoming a “Big” might just change their lives forever. Not only will they provide some much-needed friendship and guidance to a younger person, but they will be able to see firsthand how their support can change the life of a troubled youth.

Local Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization:
Local animal shelters and Rescue Groups are another great way to get involved. Animal shelters, like The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation here on Long Island, are always in need of volunteers to walk, play, pet and take care of the rescued animals in their facility. If your teen wants to work with animals, then your local no-kill shelter is a great place to start.

Your teen can also raise money to sponsor a pet in need. One of my favorite rescue organizations is Another Chance for English Setters, and they recently started a Setter Sidekicks program, where kids, aged 18 and under, can sponsor an ACES setter for $5 a month. Donations help take care of a rescued setter during its stay in foster care, and the sponsors are recognized on the dog’s profile page.

With so many volunteer opportunities available, encouraging your teen to get involved is a no-brainer. The impact volunteering will have on your child will be life-changing, and hopefully, they will grow up to be kind, compassionate adults.

Denine M. Anderson-Regan is a well-rounded Advertising and Marketing Manager with solid experience in web content writing and public relations. She has worked with several well-known companies including K. Van Bourgondien & Sons, Shop At Home, QVC, Better Homes & Gardens, Wal-Mart, Costco, FatWire Corporation, IBM, and Nathan’s Famous. Denine currently writes the blog, We Know Stuff, with her sister, Daniele H. Anderson Stringer.

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  • http://www.soles4souls.org/blog Soles4Souls

    Hey Denine,

    Thank you so much for helping spread the word about our cause & including us in the list of ways that parents can get their teens involved in volunteering! It’s an honor to be included in this list of A-list charities!

    We’re so grateful!
    Jeremy, S4S staff

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  • http://www.weknowstuff.us.com/ Denine M. Anderson-Regan

    Hi Jeremy,

    The pleasure is all mine. I love Soles 4 Souls!

    Regards, Denine