I love the start of a new year. Something about a fresh slate, so full of promise, gets me so excited. I always make a long list of the things I hope to accomplish and then I dutifully check them off throughout the year. It’s a total geek-out for me. But this year, I’m hoping to try something new by including my 10-year-old son in my volunteering efforts. He’s becoming more aware of how some people have more than others, particularly how much he has and how much he can share. I love his giving spirit and I want to be sure I do what I can to nurture it. And in a city as large as ours there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in Houston with kids.
We already know that the best way to influence our children is to include them as we live out our personal values. They learn so much just by watching us and the good news is that there are so many ways that you can include them in the causes you care about. Make this year your most community minded year yet with these fun and easy ways to volunteer with your kids.
A Cause with Cuddles
Did you know that you can volunteer to read to animals or assist in the puppy nursery at an adoption event? Both activities, and many others, are available to BARC Animal Shelter volunteers. Volunteers must be 13+ years old. Helping local animals while getting covered in puppy kisses? Win-win!
Help End Child Hunger in Houston
Help combat food insecurity in our city by volunteering with Kids Meals Houston. Every day, thousands of children in Harris County wake up unsure of where their next meal will come from. Kids Meals Houston offers so many ways for your family to get involved, whether you work in their facilities preparing and packing lunches (ages 8+), organize a summer juice box drive or decorate some of the thousands of paper bags used to deliver meals.
Use Your Birthday for a Good Cause
Another way to volunteer in Houston with kids is to consider fundraising for a cause during their birthday month. Many local organizations make it easy to set up an online fundraiser that you can share with your loved ones, including Kids Meals Houston, the Houston Food Bank and Texas Children’s Hospital.
Show Your Support for Women and Girls
Help homeless and low-income girls and women to stay focused on their goals by supporting access to period-related products through Helping Women Period. These necessary products are not covered by SNAP or other assistance programs, which means many women and girls go without addressing their basic needs every month.
Here’s an easy way to volunteer in Houston with kids that doesn’t require anything other than stepping out your front door with a bag and a pair of gloves; taking a weekly walk around the neighborhood to pick up litter. You can keep it small with your family or organize a neighborhood-wide beautification day!
Run for Fun and Funds
There are many ways to help at or participate in a local 5K that supports a cause important to your family. The RunGuides website allows you to find a perfect match.
Support Readers in Becoming Leaders
Become a Big Book Buddy – Teens in 7th through 12th grade help younger children improve their reading skills through this 10-week literacy program sponsored by the Harris County Public Library
Making a Difference for the Whole Family
Make the holiday season a little brighter for a family in need by participating in the Adopt-A-Family Program through Houston Children’s Charity. Sponsors are matched with families in the community who are in need during the holiday season. Sponsored items may include toys, clothing and household items.
Houston Children’s Charity also operates a no-charge resource closet for families. Your family could consider HCC when purging gently used adult and children’s clothing, shoes, books, toys and games.
Answer a Child’s Birthday Wish
Create a birthday-in-a-box for a child who might otherwise not have a party. Box of Balloons is a national organization with a Houston branch that works with community social workers and advocates to identify children in need. Let your child choose their favorite theme and then go wild filling a box with paper products, decorations, goodie bags, games, cake mix and frosting, a gift… the sky’s the limit! This one could easily become a favorite activity during family birthday months.
Support Children in Foster Care
Put together hygiene packs for children in foster care through Be A Resource (BEAR). These packs contain products that help kids retain a daily routine and are very easy to put together.
Bring a Smile to a Senior’s Face
Share a happy birthday wish with a senior citizen living in your area. Contact a local assisted living home to ask if they would accept birthday cards for their residents. Bring a smile to someone’s face on their special day by including drawings, jokes and riddles. You could even include printed crossword and sudoku puzzles for a little extra fun.
Save Three Lives in 30 Minutes
Parents and minors 16 and older can donate blood and save lives in the process through the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center. It’s also easy to organize a mobile blood drive through your workplace, church, school or non-profit organization.
When looking for places in Houston to volunteer with your kids, it’s important to choose an activity and/or cause that you both care about. Spend time talking with your children about your shared interests, then use this guide as a jumping off point! And please, add your ideas and thoughts in the comments. We’d love to recognize ideas and organizations that aren’t on this list.