Raising a Charitable Child

When it comes to finding the perfect community-service project, the best approach is to start by assessing your child’s interests and talents, and look together for a good match. Here are several ideas for all kinds of kids.

The Animal Lover
There is a plethora of shelters that need help preparing animals for adoption. Or connect with the Washington Ferret Rescue and Shelter in Kirkland, which relies on volunteers to do laundry, clean cages, and even bathe the ferrets.

The Outdoorsy Kid
King County Parks maintains more than 28,000 acres of open space, and depends on volunteers to help. Check out the volunteerism calendar, simply coined “The Dirt.” The page is updated regularly with plenty of opportunities for restoring trails, removing invasive plant life, picking up litter, and even becoming a weed watcher.

The Social Butterfly
Mercer Island-based Friendship Circle of Washington’s Friends@Home program needs teen volunteers to bond with children with special needs in the place the children feel most comfortable — their own home. Visiting teens can be like a friend over for a play date — baking cookies, crafting, playing games, or reading!

The Crafter
If your kiddo has a talent for sewing, painting, or other arts encourage them to use those talents to comfort children experiencing trauma. Police, fire, and rescue personnel often take stuffed-animal donations to give to children who have experienced domestic violence, car accidents, house fires, and more. Likewise, children who enjoy crocheting or knitting can make blankets to donate to sick children in hospitals through nonprofits like Project Linus.

The Pack Rat
Kids can rummage around their closets for items to donate. While they’re at it, encourage them to do the same with toys and dusty books, which can greatly benefit children within their own community.

The Athlete
Volunteer to help coaches and inspire young athletes. Also check out Bellevue-based FirstSwing Foundation, which introduces baseball to youth in places like Vietnam via a contingent of young Northwest baseball players.

The Shopaholic
Engage your child in the cultivation and construction of a care package for a deployed service member. Don’t know any troops? No problem. Send your package to supportourtroops.org and they’ll make sure it makes it into the hands of a homesick soldier, Marine, sailor, or airman. Or, if they’d rather, have your children shop for a deployed military K9 through the same charity.

The Food Lover
With your permission, let your kiddos loose to dig through the pantry and select nonperishable food items to donate to a local food bank. Or donate time at a location like the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank, where they can sort, package, and distribute food items directly to individuals in need.

More Ideas

  • Instead of presents, ask for donations for a cause that is important to you — like pet food for an animal shelter.
  • Do chores for elderly members of your neighborhood without expecting anything in return.
  • Volunteer to help a local nonprofit with its social media sites.
  • Grow flowers and donate them to a local senior home, or grow fresh fruits and veggies and donate to a local food bank.
  • Can you play a musical instrument? Do you take the best photos? Bake tasty cookies? Donate your talents to someone or an organization in need!
is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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