Many parents choose to incorporate giving to others into their holiday traditions. Granted, helping out those who are less fortunate is a great thing to do any day of the year. Especially in tough economic times like these, the holidays provide a special opportunity to be thankful for family, good friends and time together.
According to a report released earlier this year, the Austin area is home to more than 6,300 non-profit organizations, most of which have budgets below $100,000. That means not only that Austin has the most non-profits per capita than any other large city in Texas, but also that there are many groups which are mostly volunteer-run. Yet, somehow, despite a very community-oriented culture, Austinites give less than residents in most other cities to charitable causes. And although families may not be able to make monetary gifts, gifts of time can be just a precious to many of these organizations, which are facing increased demand in the economic downturn.
Part of what makes volunteering difficult for families is identifying opportunities to make a difference. Little Helping Hands, which was featured on LiveMom recently, is working to change that by connecting families with activities for children ages 4-12.
Given Austin’s creative spirit, if what’s out there doesn’t work for you and your family, don’t let that stop you.
One mom friend mentioned that she and her three daughters hand out apples to those who are waiting in line for a meal at a food pantry. If you and your kid/s like baking together, how about making banana bread once a month to hand out to homeless you may notice in places like Pease Park or downtown? Encourage your street to coordinate their post-New Year purge and call a charity to pick up the things others could still use. One LiveMom writer collected toiletries from her daughter’s preschool, assembled Ziploc bags and handed bags out along Congress. A group of moms organized a Thanksgiving feast for a local shelter for immigrant women.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is coming up on January 18th. Deciding upon a family service project is a great way to keep the spirit of volunteerism alive outside of Thanksgiving and the December holidays. Check out Serve.gov, the MLK Day Mobilization and I Live Here, I Give Here for ideas of things to do and organizations that need your help.
What DIY volunteering have you done and how do you feel your family has benefited? If you haven’t done any volunteering as a family, what do you plan to do in the coming year?
Written by: Nicole Basham