Most cities have homeless shelters, and volunteering at one can be an excellent learning opportunity for your child. It can teach them to be more respectful and appreciative about the things that they have in life, as many others don't have half the things they have. To help get kids more involved, your first step is to call your local shelter and ensure that they allow children to help. Some may have rules about allowing children below a certain age, but most will be happy to accept any help at all. Once you have the all-clear, here are a few kid-friendly ideas that will help make everyone feel good:
Prepare and Hand Out Care Packages.
There are a lot of ways you can go about care packages. These can be very specific, such as hygiene packages that include travel-sized toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, etc., or they can contain a little bit of everything like bottled water, granola bars and travel-sized toiletries. Regardless of the contents, these care packages can be handed out at a homeless shelter and they can also be kept in the car so that when a homeless person or an individual in need is seen on the side of the road or underneath an underpass, they can be given out.
Go Through Old Clothes and Toys.
It's a terrible thought, but there are children at homeless shelters. These children normally don't have toys. They barely have the clothes on their backs. So, one thing that you can consider having your child do is to go through their old clothes and toys to donate to the local shelter. This can include books, art supplies, wind-up toys, stuffed animals, and the like. During the winter, the children will particularly be appreciative of warm coats, socks and shoes (adults, too!). If you don't happen to have anything old that you can give away, and your budget allows, you could always go purchase a few new or secondhand things to take to the shelter.
Prepare and Serve Meals.
As a general rule, homeless shelters have a kitchen set up where they prepare and serve meals to the individuals staying there. Usually, these aren't fancy meals. They are often soups or something simple. However, these people are thankful for them. You and your child can help prepare and serve these meals. If your child is too young to help in the kitchen, he or she may be able to help set the tables, hand out fruits (apples, oranges or bananas), or get drinks for the residents. If nothing else, a friendly young face will likely do more for the individuals at the shelter than the child could ever even imagine.