There’s generally a big push to volunteer and make charitable donations around the holidays when angel trees and Salvation Army helpers occupy malls and retail corners, but contributions tends to peter out as the year progresses and schedules get busy. Teach kids that giving is always important, whether it’s giving time, talent or goods. It’s not only beneficial to those in need, studies prove that volunteering is good for your family’s health and happiness too, so volunteer together.
Wee Volunteer: Puppy Love
Encourage kids ages 4 and up to spend time with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in McKinney — and its furry friends — on February 11 from 4–5pm at the Russell H. Perry Animal Care Center. Little animal lovers color adoption signs, read to dogs and make toys for kittens and puppies. Plus, children tour the facility and help feed the on-site farm animals (apples for the pigs and carrots for the horses.) Register online in advance, $10 per person.
Plano Community Clean Up
Enlist your brood to do the dirty work. Organize a community cleanup in Plano to rid a neighborhood, park or creek of litter and junk. It’s surprisingly simple to set up. Get a group together (think the kids’ friends and their parents), pick a location to clean and then register the group online more than a week in advance. You’ll get a date to go to Plano’s Sustainability & Environmental Education Offices to pick up free cleaning supplies such as trash bags, vinyl gloves and litter pick-up sticks.
If your family is looking to commit to a cause long term, donate your time to Operation Kindness, the original North Texas no-kill shelter for cats and dogs. Kids 6 and older walk dogs, play with cats and help clean up after the animals. Or work a few weekend adoption events held monthly. Fill out a volunteer application online (there is a $35 adult application fee and a $25 junior application fee). Volunteers are expected to give six hours a month or be at six adoption events a year.
Wee Volunteer: Meals on Big Wheels
The bright, multicolored, graphic Meals on Big Wheels bus is hard to miss. Young helpers (ages 2 and up) and their parents ride along assisting the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) in delivering meals to the elderly on February 15 from 10:15am–12:45pm. Register online in advance, $10 per person.
Dallas, 817/800- 3537
Wee Volunteer: Mommy Manders’ Musical Outreach
If you have a born performer 6 months or older, let them take the stage and entertain the residents at The Forum at Park Lane retirement home by dancing, singing and playing musical instruments on February 10 from 4–5pm. They’ll also craft valentines for their audience.
Dallas, 817/800- 3537
Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls
At Buckner Shoes for Orphan Souls, kids (all ages welcome) help sort shoes and medical and school supplies that will be sent to orphanages in Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Peru and Kenya. Little volunteers also take care of the most important part of the delivery: handwritten notes and drawings (tokens orphans treasure most, according to the organization) to include with new shoes. Morning and afternoon shifts are available Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Call ahead to pick a date and time.
Quilt Country Charity Sew-In
If your little one loves to sew — and has access to a sewing machine — bring them (all ages and skill levels welcome) to the local quilting charity sew-in on February 23 from 10am–5pm. The group will work to create quilts for a range of people in need — from victims of a recent tornado to female service members with PTSD. Quilt kits and patterns (which can be taken home to complete) will be provided, but all quilters need to bring a sewing machine and thread.
Tarrant Area Food Bank
Enlist kids age 8 and older to volunteer at the Children’s Feeding Program, where they’ll inspect food going to school-age kids from food-insecure households for quality and expiration dates before it’s shipped to local “Food for Kids” programs. The group meets every Wednesday from 6–9pm. Kiddos need to be at least 55 inches tall so they can see over the table, and every three volunteers ages 8–13 need to have an adult with them. Register in advance online.
Fort Worth, 817/857-7100
For a quick and easy way to lift spirits, send thank-you letters and drawings (or both) from the kids to members of the military. Your little’s contribution will be included in care packages sent to veterans, deployed troops, wounded warriors and new recruits. Bundle all letters and pictures together, fill out a donation form and put them in the mail. Go online for complete instructions and ideas.
Let crafty littles of any age sew, knit, quilt or crochet blankets for Project Linus, a nation-wide charity that passes the finished products on to critically ill or traumatized babies, children and teens at local hospitals. Younger kids or those not skilled with a needle and thread can make no-sew tied fleece blankets or help in other ways, like sorting and inspecting coverlets for safety. Make blankets at home. Find size requirements, safety precautions and drop-off locations under the FAQ section online.
Multiple locations, 214/383-9140