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Volunteering during the holiday season

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The Holidays is a time of giving and it’s a great time for families to do things for others. It’s also a wonderful time to teach children to volunteer to help those less fortunate.

Why are the Holidays a great time to get started with helping others?

It is the season for giving and most people want to do something for others at this time of year. It’s a busy time, but there are also a lot of opportunities out there for people and it’s a great time to teach kids about helping others.

What are the benefits of serving others for young people?

For most children the world is small. It is made up of their school, their home and their neighborhood. When children start to reach out and help others, their world grows and so does their confidence. Independent Sector, an organization that studies nonprofit groups, surveyed teenagers who volunteer to help others. The young people said that through their volunteer experiences they:

1. Learned to respect others

2. Gained satisfaction from helping others.

3. Learned how to get along with and relate to others.

4. Learned to be helpful and kind.

5. Learned new skills.

Are there ways to encourage your children to serve others?

There are ways to encourage your children to serve others. Doing the service together allows them to see you as a role model of serving. So maybe something as simple as helping out a neighbor as a family. You can help your child put together a weekly schedule of activities that includes some kind of service to others. Together think of 10 ways your family can serve others.

Who can volunteer?

Everyone can volunteer. If you have younger children make sure the service is something that they can be a part of. If you make your volunteering experience too difficult or not age appropriate those youth will not see the benefits. If you are volunteering as a family, you need to decide as a family what interests you have and then look at the possibilities out there and then decide as a family what you want to do.

What are some of the possibilities out there?

Playing Christmas music at a nursing home. Cook a meal for a single parent. Pick names off the giving tree and go buy the presents as a family. Give a “one-hour” coupon that’s good for any project of the recipient’s choice.

Is this a chance to start a family tradition?

It is a great opportunity to start a tradition and to help teach children that the Holiday season is much more than getting gifts, but is also about giving of ourselves.

(Courtesy of UNL Extension Office)

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