While it may be difficult to squeeze one more thing into your busy schedule, doing community service sure knocks out a lot of things on a parent's "To do list for raising a good person."
Besides positively impacting the people and organizations that you help, the service can help your own child in many ways.
First, it helps them to develop empathy and compassion, learn more about their community and the people who live in it, and feel more connected to their world.
Besides that, it's a great way to bond with friends and family in a new way. You may even discover or develop new skills and talents that you didn't know about before.
Finally, it can help them learn the importance of responsibility, keeping commitments, and get them in the habit of using their free time productively.
With all this in mind, some projects are better suited to kids than others. Here are some ideas for local community service opportunites:
1. Sunbeam Kids
Sunbeam Kids, Inc. is a Milwaukee-based non-profit organization that provides consistent volunteer opportunities for busy families who are looking for a way to get the whole family to get involved in community service. Register your family for a suggested donation of $20 per child per year, and choose which monthly projects you’d like to participate in. Past projects include making sandwiches for homeless residents, cheering on athletes in the Special Olympics, making crafts for hospital patients, and more.
2. Toddlers and Kids on a Mission
Toddlers and Kids on a Mission offers monthly opportunities to volunteer as a family and meet new people throughout Milwaukee. Past projects include toy and supply drives, outdoor clean up days, serving meals at shelters, and meeting up with reading buddies.
3. Participate in Milwaukee Empty Bowls
Head to a participating business to paint and donate a bowl for the main fundraiser held in the fall. Proceeds from the bowls go toward local hunger initiatives.
4. Donate toys to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
8915 W. Connell Ct., Milwaukee, WI 53226
Brighten the day of a sick child staying in The Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. They are always accepting donations of new, un-used toys for the children who are staying there. You can check their wish list online and drop your donation off at the Welcome Desk.
If you have more time and motivation, you can organize a toy drive and donate the toys to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They distribute the toys to sick children who desperately need the excitement and joy that a new toy can help provide.
For the toys, books, and clothes you're not longer using, The Robyn’s Nest provides these items free to the families within Milwaukee's foster care system as well as those identified to have unmet needs through Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. It is located at the southeast corner of the parking lot behind the office building at 620 S. 76th Street. Please enter the parking lot at 74th and Main for easiest access.
5. Interfaith Older Adult Program
600 W. Virginia Ave., Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (414) 291-7500
Partner with Interfaith Older Adult Programs to help older adults with cutting grass, gardening, general yard work, raking leaves, shoveling snow, or grocery shopping.
6. Make sandwiches for Guest House of Milwaukee
1216 N. 13th St., Milwaukee, WI 53205
The Guest House of Milwaukee is a homeless shelter and resource center for men who have fallen on hard times. They hand out around 100 sandwiches per day. Your family can easily help them by assembling meat and cheese sandwiches in a ziplock bag and dropping them off, but be sure to call first to schedule a drop-off time.
7. Mail Call: Write a letter to a Wisconsin veteran
The Journal Sentinel’s “Mail Call” delivers letters of thanks to the Stars and Stripes organization, who distributes them to veterans on future Honor Flights. Honor Flights take World War II, Korean War, and terminally ill veterans to Washington D.C. to visit their memorials. Plus, for every letter they receive, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel donates ten dollars to the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. You can mail your letters to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 333 W. State St., Milwaukee, WI 53203.
8. Urban Ecology Center
3700 W. Pierce St. Milwaukee, WI 53215
1500 E. Park Pl.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
1859 N. 40th St., Milwaukee, WI 53208
Drop in to one of the Urban Ecology Center locations at a scheduled time to be a Park Ranger. Park Rangers help keep the outdoor spaces clean, safe, and accessible. It’s a great way to spend the day outside with your family while contributing positively to your community.
9. Visit the elderly
Be a one-hour visitor or lead a craft project with residents at the Milwaukee Catholic Home. Contact a nursing home near you to find even more convenient opportunities to brighten up the day of an older person.
10. Charity Runs and Races
During the warmer months, watch out for kid-friendly runs and races that raise money for charity. Here are some ideas.
Search for more opportunities! Check out Volunteer Milwaukee for seemingly endless opportunities to give back with your family.