Volunteering has health benefits for both kids and adults
Making a difference in the lives of other people in your community isn’t just good for them. It’s good for your health, too. Kids who volunteer also reap the health benefits doing good in their Tampa Bay communities. Research shows volunteers
experience less stress, tension, depression, and anxiety
have more genuine social networks/friendships
have higher self-esteem and are more resilient
are more physically active
have enhanced opportunities for professional development.
Bonus! When you volunteer as a family, you also enhance family bonding and may see less family conflict over time.
Ready to get your family involved in a community service project this holiday season? We’ve compiled a list of family-friendly volunteer opportunities in the Tampa Bay area along with ideas for starting a service project of your own design.
Article written by Karen M. Rider.
1. Seeds of Faith Community Garden. All ages are welcome to join the Bay Life Church for garden work days on the second Saturday of each month from 8am-10am. Please bring water and gloves! No experience necessary.
2. Sweetwater Organic Farm has many gardening projects and special events where families can volunteer their time. Different projects require different age requirements. Groups are also welcome. Contact the farm for details.
3. Feeding Tampa Bay allows children ages 10-15 to volunteer with the participation of a parent or guardian. Younger children can participate with an adult at Family Night on November 18 from 6-8 p.m. Feeding Tampa Bay will provide kid-friendly, age-appropriate activities to bring awareness to the 1 in 4 children in our communities who go hungry.
Volunteer info: Feedingamericatampabay.com
4. Metropolitan Ministries allows to help during the holiday season in the hospitality area. The roles for kids age 8 –14 include serving snacks for the families served by MM; working in the wagon pulling area to take food/toys out to the client’s car; and sorting food and toys to ensure all the families that come to MM for help this holiday season receive quality items that meet their needs.
Sign up is required for each person (create an account for each child as well).
Sign up at: Metropolitan Ministries
5. High Risk Hope’s Books for Babies (all year): Books for Babies is an easy way to involve children with High Risk Hope’s mission to help families dealing with premature birth. The children can a host a book drive with their school or with a local library www.highriskhope.org
6. Kids Helping Kids in Pasco County: They offer opportunities throughout the year where children of all ages are able to participate in service opportunities in Pasco county. Please visit their Facebook page for updates and upcoming service opportunities.
7. Messenger of Hope Mission: Messengers of Hope Mission’s desire is to help feed the hungry and help the homeless and poor by sharing the love of Jesus in practical ways. Our goal is to help feed the poor and homeless, but our purpose is to empower people to overcome poverty and live meaningful, purpose-driven lives. They offer many ways for families with children to volunteer.
Please see their Facebook page for updates on upcoming volunteer drives and events they are hosting. You may also call: (813) 404-2300 for more information.
8. Meet me in the Streets Ministry: Provides opportunities for families to provide donations and serve food to lower income families. Find out more by visiting their Facebook page.
More Great Ways to Volunteer as a Family
Search for opportunities using the sites listed below as well as searching facebook local. A few we discovered include Trinity Café Tampa, Messengers of Hope Mission, and Abby’s Organic Farm.
1. VolunteerMatch.org allows you to search any geographic area to find opportunities that match your interests and age range. An account login is required. Visit the Tampa area link.
2. Both Lion’s Heart and Eckerd Connects require the completion of an interest form and make note that you are looking for opportunities for children to participate. The organization will respond to you with information about applicable upcoming opportunities.
3. Also, consider your family’s church or place of worship, Friends of the Library, the YMCA, Jewish Community Center, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts. Churches, theY, and JCC oftenhave opportunities for those who are members as well as non-members. Libraries are always in need of support for events, fundraising, and library-related operational tasks such as shelving books. With Scouts, even young children partake in community service activities that are “scout-led” with oversight and support from the troop leader.
4. Create a Family Service Project
Last, but definitely not least, create your own volunteer project. You know the talents and skills of your family members better than anyone. Ask family members what’s important to them when it comes to giving back/doing good. Whom would they like their time and effort to benefit? Brainstorm ways that their special talents can be applied to a service project that you create together. Research and reach out to organizations where your project may be a good match. Here are some ideas:
Has there been a recent local or national event (natural disaster or civil unrest) in which supplies, support, or food are needed? What can you do to bring ease during the period of hardship?
Think about the needs of our military veterans, or residents at children’s homes or assisted living facilities. (Did you know many older adults do not receive any visitors, which is especially hard during the holidays.)
Remember the old-fashioned lemonade stand? If your child bakes the most amazing cupcakes or designs beaded keychains, they could arrange a sales date at a local library, farmer’s market, and church hall and donate proceeds to a charity. (Be sure to verify policies with the organization you want to help and with the location where you want to set up your sales.) Got a sporty family? Organize a soccer shoot-out or neighborhood 3-v-3 hoops event for a charity.
Whether you create your own family service project or volunteer for an organization, the benefits of volunteering as a family are priceless.
Article written by Karen M. Rider.
Stories of youth who’ve had positive experiences with volunteering.
NationalService.gov. “The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A review of Recent Research.” Corporation of National & Community Service.Accessed 13 Oct 2018: https://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf