8 Ways to Volunteer With Your Kids

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8 Ways to Volunteer With Your Kids
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Everyone wants their children to learn and know about the world around them, and a great hands-on practice is volunteer work. What better way to learn than getting out there and doing something that benefits others? After all, giving back to your community actually benefits you as well. To help you get out and serve with your kids, Jeanne Pritzker, founder of Foster Care Counts in Los Angeles, shares eight ways you can volunteer as a family.

Help the Homeless
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Help the Homeless

Unfortunately, every community has residents without homes who need shelter, food and clothing. "Volunteer to make or serve food at pantries or shelters that serve the homeless people in your community," Pritzker said. Take it a step further, and organize your own food drive to collect and deliver much-needed food to these organizations.

Go on Litter Patrol
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Go on Litter Patrol

One of the biggest impacts on the environment is discarded trash. "Take your children to a location like the beach or a park, and pick up trash," Pritzker said. Also, check with local organizations to see if they are hosting annual cleanup days. Many groups hold events each year to clean up rivers, highways and other public lands.

Do It for the Kids
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Do It for the Kids

Kids love helping other kids, so make the most of this affection by having your children do something for the local children's hospital. "Make placemats for kids in your local hospital by creating art -- photos, drawings, stickers, etc.-- on flat paper, and then take it to a nearby office service provider to get laminated so they can be cleaned," Pritzker said. Have your kids hand them out while visiting children in the hospital.

Serve Those Who Serve Us
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Serve Those Who Serve Us

It's easy to forget about first responders until we actually need their help. Make it a priority to do something special for them on a regular basis. "Bake cookies and take them to the fire or police station to provide for those who are serving our community," Pritzker said. It may not seem like much, but this small gesture is always appreciated by our public servants.

Go to the Dogs
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Go to the Dogs

Most children love animals, so volunteering at a local animal shelter or rescue operation is a great way to get them involved. "Visit the animal shelters, and walk the dogs that are waiting in cages to find homes," Pritzker said. Kids also can help out by collecting pet food and other supplies that are in constant demand at animal shelters.

Celebrate the Holidays
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Celebrate the Holidays

Making holiday cards is a favorite activity for many children. The glitter glue, the stickers, the fun accents: They love creating works of art. Encourage this and turn it into a volunteer opportunity by making holiday cards -- Valentine's Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. -- and dropping them off at the local hospital, assisted living home or nursing home, Pritzker said.

Clean Your Closets
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Clean Your Closets

Most families have more clothes than they really need. "Clean out your closets, and gather your gently used belongings and take them to a nearby shelter," Pritzker said. Use this activity as a teaching opportunity for your children, explaining how we can use what we have to help others. Take it a step further, and help them organize their own community clothing drive for local organizations.

Teach Your Kids
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Teach Your Kids

Volunteering with your children provides a great way to teach your kids other life lessons as well. "Take your kids to the grocery store, and give them a dollar amount," Pritzker said. "Have them pick out the most cost-effective and most nutritious foods -- which becomes a math lesson for your kids, too -- and then take it to a shelter or food drive." Another example is having your children read to seniors in the hospital, which helps improve the kids' literacy skills.

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