Parents are everyday superheroes. We juggle work and responsibilities while raising children, arguably the hardest job in the world, but most rewarding.

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Volunteering is a great activity for children as it can inspire them toward a more giving mindset and help with various personal and professional life skills. It’s also an opportunity for families to create lasting memories.

Here are a few helpful tips to encourage a culture of giveback at home.

Lead by Example

Alec Clark is president and co-founder of Plexus Worldwide.

Your children are smart. They hear everything you say and do and whether your actions match your words. Leading by example is the best way to encourage your kids to get involved. If they see that you’re inspired, they might become inspired too. If they see that you are kind and giving, they will be kind and giving. This can be encouraged by sharing positive stories or lessons from your own volunteer time.

Most importantly, communicate with them, spend time with them, ask them what changes they want to see in the world and discuss what volunteering means.

Start Small

At Plexus Worldwide, we’re passionate about philanthropy. We offer paid volunteer time to our staff and have contributed over 41 million meals to families experiencing food insecurity with our Nourish One initiative since 2018. But we started small before we considered global efforts.

Depending on which organization, kids ages 4-18 can volunteer, though the age range varies. The experience teaches them that they can better someone’s situation through their efforts. It’s never too early to start, but you don’t want to overwhelm them.

What’s usually best, whatever your child’s age, is to start small. Let them see that volunteering can be a fun and rewarding experience. To do this, you must consider what your child enjoys and what volunteer activity is right for them.

For example, Plexus volunteers with St. Vincent de Paul on numerous activities, including crafting intention bracelets. This would be a great activity for a creative child with an interest in jewelry, while others might instead enjoy spending time with the elderly, crafting birthday cards, or rounding up canned foods from their neighborhood for donation.

Does your child love to cook, read, lead a team, garden, or simply love being around animals? There are plenty of Valley organizations needing their help within these multitude of topics. Always discuss volunteer efforts with your children before planning anything.

Start with Seasons

Did you know that the percentage of Americans volunteering has decreased steadily since the Covid 19 pandemic?

Starting small makes a bigger impact than you think, and another way to encourage this giveback is to think seasonally. In the summer, Phoenix food banks need water bottles and, in the winter, organizations need assistance with holiday gifts.

Elizabeth Woods, Director of Philanthropy at Plexus, recalls how packaging gifts with her family during Christmas became a cherished tradition, a time of joy and togetherness. This experience highlights the importance of creating meaningful and enjoyable moments.

Making volunteer activities seasonal helps by dividing up the time so these occasions are not too often and become special. It also emphasizes the need and makes it relevant.

Volunteering as a family adds joy to their experience and can create lasting and loving memories. 

Author: Alec Clark is president and co-founder of Plexus Worldwide.