|For years, I have volunteered at the local Humane Society and Wilderness Center. I love to work with animals, but the main reason I do it is because I believe compassion is learned as we help others. I want to set the example for my children so they can one day feel the fulfillment I have felt while volunteering.
Though there are few organizations that will allow very young children to volunteer, some start accepting applications for those as young as 12 years of age. There are many animal rehabilitation centers who will take on supervised children, especially home schooled children who are available during the week. In two years, my son will be able to volunteer at the horse rehabilitation center.
In the meantime, I look for opportunities for my son to experience helping in every avenue. For example, volunteering does not have to be official. Most often, I find myself organizing volunteer programs, including picking up trash from different locations, catching feral cats to get them neutered or spayed at the local shelter, collecting old cell phones and donating them to the homeless shelter and recently reading to some folks at the nursing home. We also help elderly neighbors carry in their groceries, weed their gardens, sweep their front porches and walkways. We have taken garbage bags to the empty lot a few blocks down and helped other neighbors keep it up by picking up litter. Although my son is not ecstatic about these activities at first, he recently realized he almost always makes a friend and has fun. There’s always some interesting or funny story to share later. Like the time when a feral cat got out of the cage and into our car!
The state parks in our area have wonderful programs that allow children to help. The Junior Ranger program is a highlight. Children attend an educational session to earn a Junior Ranger Badge. After, they walk the trails and watch for animals that may need help or litter that needs to be removed so that wildlife won’t eat it.
My son shares my love of animals, therefore I was not surprised the other day when he suggested getting our sweet family dog Coco a good citizen certificate so she can be a therapy dog at the nursing home or hospital. I knew he would catch the volunteering bug sooner or later. Now to teach 14 year old Coco all she will need to learn to become a good citizen dog…
Article By Nuria Almeida
Picture By vastateparksstaff
Homeschooling Reading Curriculum by SmartTutor.com