The holiday season is a wonderful opportunity to show children how important it is to give back to those who are less fortunate. Studies show that volunteering teaches even toddlers and preschoolers compassion, empathy and gratitude while promoting self-esteem. Volunteering as a family is wonderful way to spend time together while making a difference in your community. The holidays provide a wide range of volunteer opportunities to participate in with a young child and we have some ideas to get you started.

  1. Toy Drives – There are a number of toy drives happening this time of year. Involve your child by having them pick out the toy to give to a child in need. New York Common Pantry has a toy drive and is an organization that York Avenue Preschool works with regularly. (NOTE: children younger than three might have a hard time parting with a gift they pick out. Try getting them a little something as well).
  2. Coat Drives – Go through your old coats together and see what doesn’t fit or hasn’t been worn in a couple seasons. Explain to your child that these coats are going to children who may not have anything to keep them warm. Find a drop-off location through the New York Cares website.
  3. Food Drive – While soup kitchens might be an intimidating environment for a young child, food donations are a great way to instill the same message. Allow your child to pick out the food they want to donate. It might not be what you think is the healthiest option, but allow them to take ownership on their donation (you can throw your own healthy items in as well). Visit City Harvest to find out where food drop-off locations are located.

Make the experience of shopping for the items or going through your clothes fun! Involve your child and explain to them how what they’re doing is helping another child just like them. Hopefully it becomes an activity you do together all throughout the year.