So you probably have some time to volunteer with your kids and to be honest- your brood can only watch so many episodes of SpongeBob Square Pants right?! True my son can and has literally watched one episode about ten times in a row but I digress. The bottom line is that you need to find activities to occupy your children’s time so….what’s a well-intentioned parent to do?
Keep reading for some SWOONWORTHY volunteer ideas and activities that you can do to make a difference and help your child (if she’s anything like mine) understand that the world doesn’t only revolve around her (I’m guilty of over-indulging her!) and that there are many people who need her help. These are some truly fabulous ways that you and your kids can volunteer your time to worthy causes that your kids won’t yawn at- but will actually really enjoy taking part in.
There’s a great organization called Generation ON that has some volunteer projects that will get kids thinking about other less fortunate kids like: Spread the Bread and Honor the spirit of giving that followed 9/11 and “bake a difference.” Help provide basic food and messages of hope to those who are in need or an EMT worker, firefighter or police officer. You could also bake bread to deliver to first responders after an emergency.
Or PARTY WITH A PURPOSE and Have a Birthday ‘Giving’ Party This Year!
For many, birthdays mean two things: getting one year older of course, and getting stuff…LOTS of stuff. There may be presents from parents and grandparents… and from friends who come to your party.
Even when you go to a friend’s party you get stuff… goody bags filled with toys that often end up broken or forgotten… or even thrown away. Birthdays often seem less about celebrating a special day, and more about getting.
But for some kids living in our country, even one birthday present is a luxury. Their parents don’t have enough money to buy gifts and goody bags… or sometimes even a birthday cake.
What if on your next birthday, as part of your party, one of the activities was to GIVE a birthday celebration, including cards, goody bags, small gifts and even cake to some very poor children to help them celebrate THEIR birthdays? That’s our Birthday Giving Party.
The idea is that each guest at your party will decorate a craft box and fill it with birthday party items for one needy child – cake mix, a gift, decorations, goody bag, the works. (Or, pretty, decorated shopping bags can be used instead.)
Here’s how it works:
First, if you’re planning a “giving” party, please let us know by asking your mom or dad to fill out the form below.
Second, invite your friends (Click Here For Printable Invitation) and ask them each to bring to the party:
• A new book for a child (not too big… it will have to fit into a shoebox sized box)
• A box of cake mix
• A can of frosting
• A package of candles
• Optional: A gently used party outfit for any aged child
Third, make sure you buy or have on hand the following items:
• Shoe-box sized craft boxes – one for each child
• Art supplies to decorate boxes and cards
• Empty goody bags
• Goody bag items
• A $10-$15 gift to go in each box
• Wrapping paper and ribbon for the gently used books
• Paper to make cards out of
• A big packing box to put all the shoe-boxes in for shipping or drop-off
At the party everyone will:
• Wrap the book they brought
• Make a card for the child they are giving to
• Decorate and fill a goody bag (Instead of GETTING a fully loaded goody bag at the end of the party, you and your friends will each MAKE a goody bag for the child you are giving to.)
• Pack the wrapped book, small gift, goody bag, card, cake mix, frosting and candles into the craft box (or bag)
• Decorate or wrap the top and bottom separately of the box and label on the outside who it is for (e.g. “10-12 year old girl”) – Tie it closed with a ribbon.
• Help pack all the boxes into one or two big packing boxes
As the birthday child, you’ll still get presents, but you’ll also be GIVING to someone else. And of course, you want your friends to leave with something…so we suggest the party guests take home small bags of candy, brownies or cookies……something edible and wonderful…and hopefully, a sense of having done something fun and meaningful!
Get started by asking a parent to fill out the form here: They’ll email you contact information for either a local family shelter that serves children in need, or one of our community partner organizations, so you can drop off or ship your birthday boxes when they’re done.
where kids can use their birthday party celebration as a opportunity to give and ask their party guests to bring a new or gently used book or a donation- to give to charity in lieu of a gift- and then Children for Children will coordinate to give all the stuff to charities, for all the info.
And if you and your kiddies LOVE Dogs and Cats but can’t make it to a shelter to volunteer here is a really neat way you can help all those shelter dogs and cats thanks to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC Animals!
You and your kids can make “cage comforters” – essentially very simple, small quilts/blankets that both help animals in shelters be more comfortable and less stressed while they are in cages in the shelters (otherwise they might be living directly on hard metal or plastic) – and also help them to be adopted and find a permanent home by letting people more easily see them as part of a home – and not simply in a shelter cage.
Cage comforters can be made from all kinds of things people already have around the house – we recently received some made from old pajama bottoms – and the little bit of stuffing to provide padding in the middle can come from places like crib bumpers. Families can work at their own pace and whenever they have time – and the time working together might also provide a great opportunity to talk about the role of animals in our lives and the care and love they need. The construction is very basic and they don’t have to look perfect or be too precise – if they meet some very basic guidelines, they will be put to great use and make a big difference in the life of an animal in a shelter.
It is a little different than working directly with animals in a shelter (often tough to include younger children), but would allow families to work together and very much for the benefit of shelter animals.
How to Make a Cage Comforter
Size of Finished Comforter:
14″ x 20″ or 12″ x 18″ (sizes don’t have to be exact)
Material for Outside of the Comforter:
– Cotton, fleece and poly blends work well for outside
– Material needs to be washable in hot/warm water (for washing at shelter)
– Ideally with no color fade at warm to hot temperatures in the machine
Padding for Inside the Comforter
– A little poly fill or other padding for padding inside
– Innards from old comforters/pillows/mattress pads work well; padding doesn’t need to be thick – just enough for the pet to have a little cushion)
Tip: good inexpensive sources of materials include thrift store comforters, crib bumpers (great source for cheap poly fill), flannel sheets, quilts, baby/receiving blankets, old pj bottoms, table cloths, bathrobes. Please wash materials before sewing.
Construction: Feel free to try your own method, but “pillowcase-style” often works best:
1. cut two pieces of material to use as top and bottom of the outside of the comforter
2. Place the two pieces of fabric one on top of the other
3. make sure the “wrong” sides of both pieces of fabric are facing out
4. Sew 3 sides together
5. Turn inside out so that the “right” side of fabric is facing out
6. Insert a bit of cotton batting or fluffy material
7. Fold over and sew the fourth seam
8. Secure the poly fill by sewing an inner seam (like quilting) around all 4 sides and/or
Sewing a middle seam with the machine (This is so that the filling does “bunch up”
When washed in the wash.)
What to do with the finished cage comforter: When you are done, you please:
Mail the comforters to:
Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
336 West 37th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
If you plan to make several or many cage comforters, please feel free to wait until you have completed several or a stack (whatever is comfortable for you) before mailing.
Questions? Please contact them at info@AnimalAllianceNYC.org or (212) 252-2350.
And if that’s not an option for you-here are some other ways you and your kids can help shelter animals:
The Humane Society has a great list of easy, inexpensive projects that use recycled materials like paper towel rolls, scraps of fleece and plastic eggs. Party games can be tailored to the theme, like “pin the nose on the puppy”. To find the shelter nearest you, search by zip code on the ASPCA website. Be sure to call the shelter in advance to find out what types of donations are accepted.
Many families choose to organize their own events, some great project ideas that families can get involved in is to:
Organize a pet food drive at their schools or communities
Create a library display educating the public on the pet overpopulation problem and
Feature books on animal care and literature on adoptions from the local shelter.
Help to encourage local businesses to have small displays of just adoption
Literature or a bulletin board of animals available for adoption.