Some philanthropic kids are charismatic and outspoken, opening successful lemonade stand enterprises and charming buyers to donate profits. Others are leaders, organizing charity events and MC’ing in front of a crowd. There are even some brave souls who sing at nursing homes in the name of giving back.
These public efforts are commendable, but what about our other kids? What about the shy child who wants to give back but prefers quieter settings?
Rest assured there’s a place for you and your reticent child in the volunteerism scene. Here are five volunteer opportunities for kids who enjoy casual, predictable environments that don’t make them feel as if they’re on stage.
While a women’s and children’s center may overwhelm some young volunteers, their babies are a safe, predictable group to serve. When a young baby is in good hands, his mother is free to concentrate on the classes offered by most women’s resource centers. You may have already noticed your child’s love of younger kids. That’s because babies are perceived as dependent and non-judgmental. Babysitting, with your supervision, lets your child serve, and you may find they benefit emotionally from the time spent cuddling as well.
Tutor Kids Learning English
Most English as a second language (ESL) programs focus on parents. Contact one of them and see whether the families’ kids would like a one-on-one helper from another child. Because the material is simple and the work is clear, your little teacher might just flourish—and make a lifelong friend while they’re at it!
Foster a Stray
Many dogs and cats need a provisional home before achieving the “Ready to Adopt” status of shelter animals. Other times, pet owners drop their pets off at the shelter in the event of a natural (or personal) disaster, hoping to return. Whatever the backstory, there are always foster pets who need a temporary, quiet, stable, nurturing environment—and more timid kids are perfect for the job. To get started, contact your local SPCA office or branch of The Humane Society.
Make Calming Bottles
Therapists who work with autistic or sensory processing disorder children know the value of a calming bottle and often appreciate the donation of tools that soothe overstimulated patients. Before getting started, call ahead to be certain your local practitioners would be receptive to a donation of calming bottles. Once you get the green light, craft your own. Here’s how.
Fill an empty water bottle with clear hand soap, leaving about an inch at the top. Next, fill the bottle the rest of the way with dish soap and stir. Then add a small handful of pony beads and a pinch of glitter. Seal the bottle by lining the cap with a drop of superglue and twisting it on to ensure the recipient can’t open it.
Once the glue dries, turn your calming bottle right side up. The contents will slowly drift down, reaching the bottle’s bottom in about four minutes.
As you watch the contents settle, envision heightened emotions settling along with them. To change the bead’s speed of travel, toy with the proportions of hand soap to dish soap.
In her book, The Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child, Dr. Marti Olsen Laney states that shy kids, or “Innies” as she lovingly calls them, are hardwired to excel in creative arts and compassion. Thus when you share this crafty volunteer opportunity with your own, don’t be surprised if she takes off with her own quirky soother designs.
Bake for Others
Forget the traditional bake sale and host a bake give instead! Simply invite your child into the kitchen to make his favorite sweet treat together, and once cool, separate into baggies. Pile into the car and visit your child’s favorite nonprofit to support the people operating them. Make your surprise visit time-specific, so if you’ve made muffins, go in the morning. Deliver pretzels midday and cookies late afternoon.
For quieter children, routine is important. Start slow, and devote a small chunk of time to philanthropic work each week. Once you’re in a rhythm together, they may find the groove they’ve always craved to really make a difference. Have you seen any good volunteer opportunities for kids who prefer predictability and general quiet? Tweet your ideas to @TomsofMaine.
Image sources: Flickr | Bethany Johnson
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.