As a parent, I love fostering the importance of giving back and teaching our children to be thankful. Volunteering as a family is a wonderful opportunity to connect with each other and the world around you! Children learn how their role makes an impact locally or globally in the lives of others.
Here are some incredible opportunities to get your children involved right alongside you. Many of these opportunities have age requirements, so please check them carefully. There are always ways for your family to collect and save money for financial donations to give to these organizations, too.
Local Volunteering Opportunities for Families and Kids
Playitforward started in Wheaton in 2014 and has since grown to Naperville, Arlington Heights, Elmhurst, Chicago, and beyond since then. They have regular events to spread kindness and help our children learn to be kind and grow up to be kind adults. It’s a wonderful mission that they can carry throughout their lifetime!
Check their website to see upcoming events that your family can participate in. Currently, upcoming events include decorating cookies for Habitat for Humanity workers and a pool party with birthday boxes for local refugee children.
DuPage Pads works to end homelessness in DuPage County by supporting clients with overnight shelters, life coaching, job counseling, and more. Check this page to sign your family up to volunteer for a variety of opportunities. Families choose a shift at an interim housing site, to serve or pack a meal, work in educational programming or volunteer for a local event. Volunteers at their interim housing sites must be a minimum of 12 years old.
The Learning through Lunches program is for all ages. Families with younger children can also help by setting up a donation drive for clothing and personal hygiene products.
You can also check out the DuPage Pads Amazon wish list for their current needs.
Feed My Starving Children offers a hands-on volunteering experience for any sized group. Families hand-pack dried vegetables, rice, soy and a nutritionally complete blend of vitamins/minerals into bags. The meals are then sent to groups around the world. Feed My Starving Children has required adult-to-children ratios for larger groups, and all volunteers must be 5 years or older.
Hinsdale Humane Society supports animals and families with lost pets, pet therapy and fostering programs, community outreach and obedience classes. Animal shelters in general are always looking for donations of food, cleaning supplies, etc. Consider hosting a garage or bake sale and donating all your proceeds to the animals.
Follow your local shelter on Facebook, as some post their “wishlist” of up-to-date needs. If you’re interested in volunteering directly with the animals, most shelters have a minimum age requirement, as well as trainings and an application fee.
The LeaderShop inspires youth to become community-minded individuals through their array of training classes, retreats, and workshops. They are noted for their Junior High Leadership Program in which students from 13 local LaGrange area junior highs participate. These kids take part in a one-day leadership conference, then bring what they learned back to their own school. In addition to this program, the LeaderShop offers after school programs, kids enrichment nights, mentoring, and a performance group.
Check their website for afterschool programs in LaGrange, Summit, and Brookfield.
Loaves and Fishes provides community members with groceries, as well as educational and employment resources through their CARES programs. Children as young as 6 years old may volunteer at Loaves and Fishes.
Families donate their time by packing snacks bags, bundling diapers or restocking the grocery market for patrons. Group of scouts, classmates, or neighbors can spend a meaningful afternoon learning about this local organization and the impact it has on the community.
One hour events for the youngest volunteers occur every Monday and Wednesday at 4:00pm, and these book well in advance. Check their website for more information.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. Through their website, you can select from a wide variety of relief efforts to support with monetary donations. With Operation Christmas Child, families send shoeboxes full of small gifts to children around the world, many of which who may be receiving Christmas gifts for the first time. Select a theme, or pick out favorite small toys to include for their donations. The FAQ page has guidelines about items to pack.
Families are welcome to pack as many boxes as they would like with a suggested donation of $9 per box. This is intended to cover processing and shipping costs. In order to volunteer at a drop-off location, your child must be 13 years of age. National collection week is November 18–25, 2019 at various drop-off locations in the suburbs. Check out the website for YouTube and Veggie Tales videos that explain Operation Christmas Child and how to pack your box.
Operation Warm focuses on keeping children warm during the cold winter months. Instead of collecting used coats in a coat drive, monetary donations are used to provide new winter coats to children. Money can be used to purchase coats sent to a local distribution event, or in neighboring cities.
Check out their website for inspiration on how to create your own fundraiser, start a drive, or get the family involved in a garage sale to keep children warm this winter season.
Teens can volunteer at Hope Chest, a LaGrange resale shop. It benefits Pillars Community Health, which provides medical services to residents of the western suburbs. Pillars does not have any volunteering opportunities designed for younger children. However, families are welcome to donate meals through Connie’s Kitchen, a program that provides donated meals to Constance Morris House, their domestic violence shelter.
Anyone interested in donating meals is asked to fill out a volunteer application.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization that helps build and improve homes for families. They offer several ways to get involved starting from age 5! Check out their website on how you can volunteer and assist someone to finally feel “at home.”
Volunteering at Plymouth Place in LaGrange Park builds meaningful relationships for both the volunteers and the seniors living there. Individuals, as well as small groups, are encouraged to plan group activities, work special events, participate in cooking or gardening programming, or simply spend time visiting with residents.
Start by learning about volunteer opportunities and completing their online form.
Ronald McDonald House Charities has countless ways for people to volunteer. Whether setting up a weekly commitment, or volunteering periodically, you’ll make a difference in the lives of families who are away from home as their children are treated for medical concerns. Group volunteering include planning family activities, preparing meals or baking cookies. Individual activities include home improvement projects or cleaning common areas. Some of the volunteer opportunities have minimum age requirements for children. The Volunteer Manager will help you find the best fit for your family.
Ronald McDonald House Charities are located near the following hospitals: Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Edward Hospital in Naperville, Loyola Medical Center in Hines, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, and UChicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago. Click the link above to read more and fill out a volunteer application for the location nearest you.
The GardenWorks project assists families in DuPage County each spring by helping plant home gardens. This organization helps families by providing garden beds, seeds, and organic gardening education. They truly believe everyone is capable of growing their own produce that will be healthy for them and their family. There are many different ways to get involved with this organization from gardening pro, to grant writer, to getting to the site to build the garden.
Check out the website and volunteer opportunities here.
ARF – IL is a non-profit, 501 (3) (c), no-kill humane society. This organization is dedicated to rescuing, fostering, and caring for dogs and cats while searching for forever homes for them. Volunteering opportunities include being a pet foster home, helping to transport animals, and participating in adoption events. All volunteer opportunities require the participant to be 18 years or older, but some allow for adult supervision if you are younger than 18.
Check the volunteer page for more information.
World Relief is a volunteer organization to assist with welcoming refugees and immigrants. They have several local chapters including Chicago, and DuPage/Aurora. The goal of this organization is help with local integration so that refugees and immigrants can lead successful and prosperous lives in their community.
Volunteer opportunities include friendship partners, ESL aides, youth group volunteers, mentors, and tutoring. You can also help with a collection project to collect items such as school supplies, toiletries, and more.
Meals on Wheels works with volunteers to deliver hot meals to senior citizens and disabled community members. Volunteers pick up and deliver meals at lunchtime, Monday through Friday. Volunteers must attend a training session, and must be over the age of 18; however, minors may participate if accompanied by an adult. This organization has made such a difference in the communities it serves.
Check out their volunteer page for ways to get involved in Chicago Heights, Worth, Steger, Sauk Village, Lynwood, Hometown, Yorkville, Franklin Park, and Brookfield.
Don’t forget! You can get your children involved in service through a variety of other ways. Children can make a difference in their local community through school clubs or PTO groups, religious groups, or scout organizations. With the holidays approaching, making cards for a hospital or retirement home is always appreciated. And lastly, Random Acts of Kindness are wonderfully positive ways to teach the beauty of good deeds and selflessness to children.
Thanks for reading, and check out the rest of our amazing articles on fun things to do with kids!