Raising Service Oriented Kids – VolunteerSpot

Our family was walking towards the restaurant when my 9 year old sprinted ahead of me. I started to holler for him to slow down, but then I noticed why he was in such a rush. An elderly man was struggling to pull the heavy glass door open for his wife. My son quietly stepped in front of him, opened the door, and continued to let the rest of the man’s family through the door. The older man looked at me and said “You’re doing something right, mom!”. A quick nod of thanks to Jacob and he was out of our lives, but his words impacted me.

Was I doing something right? Have I encouraged my kids to be service oriented to others? I mean, I can barely get them to clean their rooms and pick up after themselves. How have I taught them that doing acts of service for others is important?

I think we often forget, especially as busy families, that being service oriented doesn’t always require a big time commitment. It doesn’t have to require time off work, trips to a foreign land, weekends away… service can be shared in your own backyard, in your own neighborhood, to the people you meet on a daily basis.

We’ve started to implement more conscious acts of service in our house. Some things we’ve been doing around our own neighborhood are:

  • Picking up the mail of neighbors when they are out of town.
  • Helping to water flowers and gardens
  • Pulling in trash and recycle containers after the trash trucks have come by
  • Making meals for friends in need
  • Picking up trash when we see it – not assuming someone else will come along and do it

Service can be simple. It doesn’t have to be a grand guessture. My children are learning that even the smallest of acts can make a big impact.

What are some of your ideas for simple acts of service?

“I am participating as a volunteer in VolunteerSpot’s Summer of Service series!
VolunteerSpot is a time-saving website that makes it easy to organize parents and
volunteers with free online sign up sheets. Use it to coordinate almost anything –
classroom helpers and parties, school carnivals and fundraisers, swim team and
soccer snacks, service projects, neighborhood events, and more!”

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  1. says

    Well, we could definitely do more here, but we do make an attempt here and there. Earth Day comes to mind (and the couple of weeks following)… we all get a couple of bags and gloves and pick up trash along the road or at the beach. My kids get competitive about how much they can pick up. We try to remember to take a trash bag when we go out as a family on geocaching trips. That way, we get to have fun, but do something for the environment at the same time. This is called “Cache in, Trash Out” and there are actual ‘CITO’ events around the world posted by geocaching.com and its members.

  2. says

    Kristen, you are so right. It starts at a young age. My kids are required to do 25 hours of community service per year, which is 100 for their high school years. Community Service has changed them. All 3 have gone to Mexico to build houses and have come back “different kids.” I’m not saying it in a bragging way but an encouraging way. It’s so cool to see what interests them, and then to help them pursue their dream, finding what fits their personality and passion. Abby just came back from a week in Mexico and is already looking to where she can go next! G. just drove off to volunteer 6 hours today. :) You are such a good mom! I have a post in my queue, I may put it up and link over to you (since you’re getting started with your young kids). Love you, girl!

  3. says

    Great post! Growing up, my parents were always taking my sister and I along on service-oriented projects, even if it was just driving the elderly woman to an appointment or raking the lives of an injured neighbor in the fall. It wasn’t fun and glamorous stuff, and as a kid I’m sure there were millions of other things I wanted to be doing, but I always remember feeling fulfilled afterwards. A servant’s heart is a precious thing. :)

  4. says

    I whole-heartedly agree! Senior Citizens’ homes often will gladly take kiddos for even 30 minutes of decorating cards, singing, playing cards.

    We also used to be big on little things like taking someone’s cart to the … “cart holder” (what are those things called) while they loaded their car after a shopping trip.

    I love that he ran ahead to open the door — what a great kid!

  5. LisaK says

    My kids aren’t always the first to volunteer with chores at home, but I have heard from other people how helpful they are.

    I think your son is awesome! It warms my heart when a kid knows to open a door for someone and actually sees that they need help. Sometimes noticing a need is the hardest part. Manners are a whole other subject, but I would bet you are doing a great job there too. Keep it up!

  6. says

    What a wonderful post and wonderful son! I had a similar experience except I was on the receiving end, recently entering a restaurant with my hands full carrying the baby in one hand, the Bumbo seat in another, and guiding my son with my voice up towards the door. A young boy (probably upper elementary or middle school-aged) saw us coming through the glass and came over to open and hold the door for us. I was in awe and thought to myself that I hope my children turn out like him at that age! It’s so refreshing at a time when it seems so many children are out of control with disrespectful behavior or attitudes.

  7. says

    What a great post! We’ve done a few different things that are on your list of suggestions. The simplicity of these things makes them think of others first, even if they don’t remember to pick up their toys at home!

  8. Whitney says

    Earlier this month, we took the boys to Joplin to volunteer. Although they weren’t able to go into the debris field with us, we spent a day volunteering at a church helping them to organize their clothing donations. While Kris(6) had to be redirected/focused often :), Kye(10) took a job and got it done. I was so proud of his willingness and eagerness. When it was time to go, he got a tear in his eye and said, “But Mom, there’s still so much to do, how can we leave?” He made me so proud!

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