Volunteering With Kids

Tis the season of giving. Start your kids on the road to compassion and citizenship with these ideas for service that can be done with even the youngest do-gooders. Please email us if you have any questions or suggestions.

 

Cook For A Soup Kitchen

Contact your local soup kitchen to ask if they accept donations of home cooked meals or desserts. Find easy recipes that include stirring, scooping, and other kid-friendly steps. Here are tips for cooking for crowds (you may need to borrow extra pots etc. from friends); we’ve found baked ziti, roasted baby carrots and brownies all scale well. We’ve cooked for Community Service Associates in Mount Vernon and Xavier Mission in Chelsea. Some centers let kids help serve also, though there’s usually a minimum age of around 5-9 years-old. Homemade cookies and treats are also appreciated at most fire stations.

Visit With Seniors

Seniors seem to love babies and kids. We used to have a monthly play date with a local senior center and other families with picture books, musical instruments, scarves and snacks for reading, singing, dancing and playing together. It was a fun (free) destination durning the winter and my kids loved the big aquarium and having a new friendly person to read to them. We’ve also arranged Easter Egg hunts, St. Patrick’s Day Parties, simple crafting and holiday caroling. Try to recruit a guitar or piano player for the caroling, or just bring a CD. One year all the other carolers got sick but the seniors were still appreciative of our family’s limited musical fits.

Call your local senior center or residence and ask for the activities director. We’ve worked with West 74th Street Home (300 Amsterdam Avenue @ 74th Street), Encore Senior Center (220 West 49 Street), Espandale Assisted Living Center (305 West End Ave at 74th Street), Clinton Gardens (404 W 54th Street) and Willow Towers (New Rochelle) in the past; email us if you need more specific contact info of if you’d like more information on caroling on the UWS or New Rochelle this season.

Card Making

Host a crafting party to make birthday or holiday cards for frail and isolated seniors. Provide stickers and stencils to help the younger kids. Adults can make cards too. See the websites of DOROT, Meals on Wheels NYC and Meals on Wheels New Rochelle for greeting card donation guideline or contact your local Meals on Wheels. Kids of any age can also accompany parents on Meals on Wheels deliveries, though a training/background check is required for the adult.

Pajama Program

Help kids in need have a loving bedtime and restful good night by collecting new pajamas and/or books to donate. Here’s info on starting a drive. A great solution for birthday or holiday presents for the kid who already has too much. Party guests still get to shop and have something fun to bring to the party. I convinced my daughter to do this for her sixth birthday (she still got lots of presents from extended family) and we had fun looking at the cute nightwear and fun books before dropping them off.

Search for more kid-friendly volunteering opportunities at New York Cares, Volunteer New York (includes Westchester) and Doing Good Together.

 READ  

Last Stop on Market Street
This winner of the Newbery Medal and an Honor Book for both the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Illustrator awards celebrates diversity, urban living, volunteerism and grandparents in a simple story about a boy riding a bus with his grandma across town.  Matt de la Pena’s vibrant text and Christian Robinson’s pleasing compositions of flat, blocky illustrations appeal to all ages.

The Thankful Book
Todd Parr’s signature bright and bold illustrations combined withe funny yet touching whimsical text  make this The Thankful Book a favorite for the holidays and all year long. “I am thankful for music because it makes me want to dance. I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.”