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Volunteering 101: How helping others helps your child

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Volunteering has many other intangible benefits. It can help your child give back to society, break down barriers of misunderstanding or fear, explore personal issues, and even have fun.

How Your Child Can Get Involved

There are many people, places, and organizations that need volunteers. Here are some tips to help your child get started:

  • Look around your community and in the phone book to see which programs are there and need help.
  • Visit your city or town Web site. It may list volunteer opportunities in your community.
  • Contact your local United Way, cultural arts association, student organization, or umbrella association that can point you in the right direction.
  • Ask your library, church or synagogue, and/or community colleges if they sponsor any volunteer groups.
  • Check out the following websites to learn more about causes and to find volunteer opportunities near you.

Questions Your Child Should Answer Before Volunteering

It's important that your child enjoy the type of service he chooses and that he has the time to stick with it. Your child should ask these questions before committing to an organization.

  • How much time do I have to commit?
  • Do I want an ongoing regularly-scheduled assignment, a short-term assignment, or a one-time assignment?
  • Am I willing to participate in a training course or do I want to start my volunteer work immediately?
  • What talents or skills do I offer?
  • What would I most like to learn by volunteering?
  • What don't I want to do as a volunteer?
  • Do I want to work alone or with a group?
  • With what kind of people do I want to work-both in terms of who is receiving my services and who my co-workers might be?

Comments from readers

"'Kids should feel encouraged to join volunteer programs! My child is very excited on doing his next volunteer project!'"
"Kids should learn to serve their community and give back. Volunteering also helps them learn the importance of careers. I think it's good to volunteer through the school like with a fundraiser, tutoring or reading with younger students. "
"my son is 11 years old. i would like him to volunteer in something during the summer. i feel that it can only enrich his life.... He is the type that would really enjoy help someone..."
"This is a great article on student volunteering and very timely for summer planning."