A day of play for my kiddos and their three cousins turned out to be the perfect opportunity to try the at-home volunteer projects suggested by Valley nonprofit Families Giving Back.
The organization helps families get involved in volunteering and lists a summer’s worth of do-it-yourself activities on its website—projects that make a real difference for organizations that directly support children and families in our community.
The kids and I picked two projects: packing heat-relief sock sacks for St. Vincent de Paul and assembling laundry-detergent bags to drop off for residents of the Ronald McDonald House Charities in Phoenix. The latter was a no-brainer for these five cousins, who really were giving back.
That’s because my nephew Nate (7), aka “SuperNate,” stayed at Ronald McDonald Houses in New York and San Diego three years ago while he was undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma, a childhood cancer. Nate won his battle and remains cancer-free. He and his big brother remember the hard days of Nate’s fight, but his cousins and a younger sibling know only that Nate was sick and got better. They also know it’s now our responsibility to help others whenever we can.
First up was a quick trip to the store (with five children ages 5 to 10!) to purchase items needed for the projects. My mission was simple: Get out quickly with no meltdowns. The itemized checklist Families Giving Back provides helped keep our crew moving.
Back at home, I let the kiddos play for a few minutes while I set up the materials on the kitchen table and made a sample of each project so they had a guide. When they joined me at the table, they jumped right in and got to work.
If I had known how sweet their conversations were going to be, I would have recorded them. The kids were proud to help others, they were curious about the individuals they were helping, and they reflected a little on Nate’s ordeal and how volunteer efforts like this really do help.
The projects moved quickly and got a little messy. But it was fun, and overall the takeaway was great. The cousins wrote notes to accompany the completed projects. There is something calming and hopeful about reading a true sentiment from a child, in his or her own handwriting, that helped tie up this afternoon activity with a bow.
At-home volunteering projects
Families Giving Back offers step-by-step instructions for these (and many more) at-home volunteering projects:
- St. Vincent de Paul heat-relief sock-sacks for the homeless (men’s tube socks, bottled water, a granola bar and Band-Aids).
- Laundry-detergent bags (laundry soap and dryer sheets) for guests at the Ronald McDonald Houses in Phoenix and Mesa, which provide a home away from home for families of children facing medical challenges.
- Decorated pillowcases for guests of Ryan House, a nonprofit that houses families of children with life-threatening conditions while the children are getting medical care.
- Art-supply bags for Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona.
- Activity packs for patients and siblings at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.