Have your children had the opportunity to volunteer? As families we can find ways to volunteer with our children, but I think one of the best ways for kids to volunteer is independent of us… with their peers at school.
I’m thrilled to share how WE makes student volunteerism easy and rewarding. This post is sponsored, so extra thanks for reading and sharing. (By the way, I kept tearing up as a I wrote this post… I hope you can get a sense of how much it means to me.)
One of the most valuable experiences a child can have is the chance to help someone in need. But life for students (and especially for parents) is so busy that it can be hard to make the time to volunteer. Thankfully, WE Schools and the WE Volunteer Now campaign make it easier to get kids volunteering.
If your child’s school doesn’t yet have a volunteering program in place, as a parent you can talk to your child’s teacher about WE Volunteer Now.
There are so many benefits to working with WE.
As well as getting students excited about helping others, WE programs can help them earn service learning hours and AP credits. Many schools — elementary, middle, and high schools — are having students log time spent on service learning and volunteering. The WE Schools framework helps students benefit from meaningful volunteering time as part of their school curriculum.
How Volunteering Helped My 12 Year Old
My daughter Julia has been so blessed this year to be part of a volunteer program at her school.
Along with a group of other 7th grade students, she’s been able to help coordinate various charitable efforts including a clothing drive for a nearby school where many of the kids are in financial need. I was thrilled that my daughter was able to work on this project and help deliver the donations to the other school.
She has had several wonderful opportunities with her school to participate in both local and global efforts.
But I think the project that impacted Julia the most was serving at a local food bank and seeing behind the scenes how the donations are handled and meeting some of the families who rely on the service.
When we arrived at the food bank, the woman who manages the location spent about 30 minutes talking to our group. She explained how the food bank serves our community entirely through donations from our community.
I loved how she walked through the budget of a single mother, with a 5 year old and a baby, who works full time at Walmart making minimum wage. Using visuals the food bank manager showed the students how after the mother pays all her bills, she does not have enough money for food. Despite her working full time, once you take off rent, taxes, electricity, and other necessities from her pay check, the family has only $250 per month left to pay for food, clothes, diapers etc. The kids were shocked!
After the presentation, we had the chance to actually serve. We packed food into bags that will be sent to people who are unable to come to the food bank. And then the most powerful part of the day was when we got to hand out food to families.
The students got to see that the people receiving help from the food bank are just like us. People of all ages and backgrounds. We met several mothers with babies and young children.
One family really stuck in my mind… a mother with a baby and 3 girls under 4 years old. She had a double stroller with the baby and twin girls squeezed in and the third girl walking beside them. She then had to try to pile the groceries on top of the kids and carry the rest while pushing the stroller. I don’t know how far she had to walk, but in the cold, winter weather, I can’t even imagine how hard it is to get back and forth to the food bank.
I explained to Julia that these families were just like us. I’m a single mother with two children and I don’t have a lot of money either. Fortunately, I get some child support from their dad and we are blessed that we also have my mother (their grandma) to help us out if we need it. Everyone needs help sometimes and some of us have family while some have to lean on the community for support.
But we are all equal. Life is hard and we all need help.
Julia loved having this chance to serve at the food bank and asked when we could go back and volunteer again.
The Surprise Twist
The surprising twist of volunteering is that it actually helps YOU as a volunteer the most.
Humans are wired to want to help. It gives you the most powerful feeling when you’re able to do something for another person.
Kids need to experience that reward of serving others.
While it’s important to teach kids to donate money and belongings to charities, getting physically involved in helping someone — especially being able to see and interact with the people you’re helping — is far more rewarding.
One of Julia’s favourite benefits of participating in her school volunteer program was that she got to attend a WE Day Live event.
She loved it!
Since she’s only 12 years old and has never been to a concert or even a large sports event, she had never even been in a stadium before. The sheer size of the place blew her away!
The group of volunteers from her school attended along with their teacher and they were able to spend the day listening to inspirational speakers and performers. Julia’s favorite performer was 13 year old musician Grace VanderWaal.
I could tell how much she was loving the entire event because she texted me several times with photos and video clips of what was happening.
She told me how cool it was when everyone in the stadium held up their phones with the lights on at the same time and how each light represented a person who had volunteered.
WE Day is so special because everyone attending has earned their spot through their volunteer work.
I was truly grateful for the teacher who organized the volunteer group projects that gave my daughter the chance to attend WE Day.
WE Volunteer Now
WE Volunteer Now makes it easy to organize a student volunteer activity.
There are so many awesome ways students can help their community and the WE Volunteer Now program can help get them started.
Visit the WeAreTeachers website to download an information package on how to start a volunteer campaign at your school.
You’ll also get access to grade-specific lessons you can use right away.
WE Volunteer Now Campaign Resources include:
- A step-by-step guide on how to get started with service learning curriculum in your classroom
- Volunteering ideas
- Teacher checklists to keep you on track
- A worksheet for you to complete with your class—by the end you’ll have a solid idea of which volunteering option is best for you!
- We Volunteer Now curriculum
Once you sign up, you can use the WE Schools Kit to figure out which action or campaign your students want to work on throughout the year.
It’s a great idea to get your students work together as a team to use the ideas in the kit to
choose a project they are passionate about. And you can fit it into your curriculum.
WE Volunteer Now Grants
There are also WE Volunteer Now grants for schools and youth groups that are made possible by The Allstate Foundation.
There are 500 grants each worth $250 to be used towards their volunteer project. The grants will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis to all eligible schools or youth groups.
The eligible school or youth organization must:
- Have an educator, administrator, or adult group leader to fill out this application
- Be based in the U.S. and registered in the WE Schools program*
- Plan to use the provided funds between October 2017 – October 2018
- Include students/youth participants in grades K-12
- Participate in the WE Volunteer Now Campaign
While these grants are only available in the US, WE also operates in Canada and the UK.
Earn Your Way to WE Day
After you and your students have completed your volunteer project and reported your results, you’ll get a chance to earn your way to WE Day.
WE Day is a stadium-sized event featuring inspirational speakers and performers. There are 6 WE Day events held annually in select cities across the United States, as well as other events in Canada the the UK.
Students could earn the chance to attend and as well they can tune in and watch the event live.
Be Part Of something HUGE
Last year, 4,200 schools — 1.3 million students — across the United States signed up and participated in WE Schools.
Plus, over 3.1 million viewers watched the WE Day Special on CBS this past August.
Find out more…
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by WeAreTeachers, the Allstate Foundation and WE.
Written by Susan Carraretto, co-founder of 5 Minutes for Mom
Talk with me: @5minutesformom and Facebook.com/5minutesformom
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