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By Warren Arceneaux / American Press
Families working together on community service projects can make a big impact on both fellow residents of the area, but the participating children as well.
Melissa Hill, marketing and event coordinator for United Way of Southwest Louisiana, said families doing volunteer work together can provide many benefits.
"It helps families learn more about social issues in their community, it is a platform for parents to talk to their children about other children that don’t have the same things or live in the same situation,” she said.
"It also gives the children positive role models and passes on family values. It can be a learning experience, teach new skills, it is quality time. In the day and age we are in with television and video games, we have lost that quality time where families can be together.
"Volunteering creates a new and unique way to do that, it promotes interaction between parents and children and can have a lifelong impact on children. It is seeing that they can make a direct impact on the community, they see putting other people first, they get a lifelong ethic of service. Children who see their parents volunteer will probably volunteer in the future. Setting an example early can make a big impact on children while improving the community as a whole.”
Hill said children can also inspire parents.
"We see so many examples of kids starting the change,” she said. "We have partnered with schools so they can start at a small level and make an impact that way. (Food bank) Abraham’s Tent does not have an age limit, they can go and help prepare food or help serve or clean up, that is a direct way they can help feed the community and help people in need.”
Service activities from pointsoflight.org, a Web site dedicated to volunteer service, for younger kids include decorating reusable grocery bags and filling them with non-perishable food items to donate to food banks; decorating holiday cards for soldiers overseas which can be delivered through the Red Cross-sponsored Holiday Mail for Heroes program and boxing up used clothing to donate to a local family shelter, refugee center or charity thrift store.
Older kids can donate their gently used books and DVDs to a local children’s hospital; make holiday decorations and cards and then sing carols for nursing home residents; collect used towels and pet toys for the local animal shelter or adopt a family for the holidays through a local business or faith group, and help shop for that family.
Categories: Community News