Volunteer Opportunities for Kids, Teens, and Families with The Central Park Conservancy

I’m always on the lookout for avenues to give back and for solid volunteer opportunities for kids, tweens, teens, and families within our community.

The Central Park Conservancy, here in New York City, is hosting Youth and Family Volunteer Day programs this fall – with a range of opportunities for kids of all ages and their families to volunteer and help keep Central Park beautiful. 

Image via Central Park Conservancy.

Their Family Volunteer Day program provides a wonderful way for families to spend meaningful time while making a difference by helping to keep Central Park green. 

Volunteer Projects are on Saturdays, 10:00 am – 11:30 am on the following dates:

  • Oct 5, 19, 26
  • Nov 2, 16, 23
  • Dec 7, 14, 21

A Teen-specific program (for ages 13-18) allows teens to collectively contribute to their community and promote good stewardship by helping out with seasonal projects in Central Park during Teen Volunteer Day

Teen Projects are on Saturdays, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm, on the following dates:

  • Oct 5, 19, 26
  • Nov 2, 16, 23
  • Dec 7, 14, 21

Hope to see you there!

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Engaging Kids In Social Good

It’s never too early to try to teach children about social good.

When impressionable young minds learn about the most pressing issues of our times, it helps spark their passion for social justice, innate empathy and interest in making the world a better place.  We believe in the power of raising solid citizens through prioritizing family service projects while doing our best to model giving.  And children bring energy, innovation, and thoughtful perspectives in ways that only little people can.

We’re not experts in the parenting arena – but it’s our belief that these seemingly small acts of charity will help to shape a moral imperative for living a life of contributing to social good.

food bank donations with kids

Amidst National Service Month, it’s an honor to partner with Child Hunger Ends Here to help fight child hunger.  Here is the U.S., one in five kids are at risk, affecting every single county in America.  With 16 million kids in need, ConAgra and the ConAgra Food Foundation are harnessing the power of youth to tackle this issue – and we’re inspired by all of the simple ways to help change the trajectory for food insecure children and families.

fight hunger together food bank donationsservice projects with kidsservice projects for kids

Armed with a $50 sponsored gift card and our family’s matching $50 contribution we made two trips to the market to shop for food pantries and shelters.

donating food with kidsfood bank donating with kids

We drove the kids to take the bags of non-perishable food to Rockaway, NY – an area devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy, and home to the second largest concentration of public housing projects in New York. This is where my husband and I discovered the beauty in volunteer dates and where the kids first participated in service projects including family giving during the holidays. This month’s family service projects may have felt small, but we prioritize them and know that they all add up to something good.

Find a few of our tips for getting kids involved in fighting child hunger below:

  • Invest children in all aspects of the project: Create kid-appropriate dialog surrounding economic hardship and food insecurity – and help kids to participate in the project as much as possible.
  • Keep the emphasis on the recipients:  For our recent food donations project, I explained to the kids that we were only purchasing food to donate.  Despite needing coffee and paper towels, and despite my preschooler loosing it over a box of character-emblazed crackers – we stuck to the plan. It may be a challenge, but it helps little ones to imagine themselves in the shoes of others.
  • Point out avenues to help in your community:  From designated boxes in our church to organized activities in our community – there are ways to help contribute all around us. Point out these avenues and participate in helping, to show children that giving is a social norm and a way of life. 
  • Repeat and celebrate stories of family service projects: Children find security in family togetherness.  Talk about and celebrate family giving and have others speak to your kids about their service experiences. I often ask my mom, the kids Abuela (grandmother), to talk about the ways in which we helped hungry children while growing up. This helps to solidify family values and a long-term commitment to serving public good.

We’re so inspired by the young agents of change who have won $500 grants from the ConAgra Food Foundation as part of generationOn’s Make Your Mark on Hunger campaign. And it’s our hope that our little-ones follow in the footsteps of our local winner, Roseline Ulysess from Brooklyn NY.

Discover more about ConAgra Foods’ approach to fight child hunger and please share your family’s tips and strategies with the hashtag #FightHungerTogether.

getting kids involved in service

We partnered with The Motherhood and ConAgra Foods to share a sponsored story about Fighting Child Hunger.  The message is important to us – thank you for reading!

 

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#SandyVolunteer

The sorts of things that I have scheduled to share in this space all feel so petty in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  The enormity of the devastation and desperation is truly mind-blowing, and now, the threat of a nor’easter is on the way.  So many people have generously come together to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy, but there is still more work to be done.  Solid up to date information is coming out of the Occupy Sandy Relief effort website (also on twitter @OccupySandy and on facebook), and under the twitter hashtags #SandyVolunteer, #OWS, and #NotAnotherKatrina).  Necessary items can even be purchased via the Occupy Sandy’s wedding registry on Amazon.  I’m not sharing this to make folks feel like their efforts are not enough, I’m simply encouraging involvement.  It is greatly needed.

Toy Houses lined up amidst burnt down houses and debris, Breezy Point, NY.  Photo via friend Brain Isaacs.

In Gratitude,
Monica

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Our First Family Service Project

One of the values I hope to instill in my children is a moral imperative for public service.  I hope that they will be willing to imagine themselves in the shoes of others and hope that they will respond and work towards social change when witnessing inequalities and disparities.  We’ve worked on introducing Lucia to these ideals by organizing her clothes and toys together to donate to shelters, preparing Christmas boxes for children in other countries, and having a daily ritual of ending our days by discussing what we are thankful for.

We also hope that our kids will have a concern for the earth and how their daily choices will have an impact on future generations.  We teach to recycle in our home, turn off lights and discuss why we choose products that are Eco friendly.

I’ve been searching for service projects that seemed appropriate for a three year old.  When my friend Sarah told me about the “One thing that’s green event” sponsored by the New York Restoration Project and Jet Blue, I knew it would be a great service project for our family.  Lucia still talks about the tornado that took out an estimated 3,000 trees in Queens last September and clearly remembers the massive amounts of fallen trees in Forest Hills.

Together with around 600 volunteers we planted trees in Macdonald Park in Forest Hills on Saturday.  It felt great to be part of such a positive collective project.   Bob didn’t even make fun of me when I started to shed tears as U2’s “It’s a beautiful day” was blasting as the volunteers marched around the park behind the project’s flag holders!

The next day Lucia stopped at one of the many massive tree stumps on our block and said “Look, this tree fell over, we need to plant a new one”!

Pirate captain LP surveying the damage, September 2010
One of the many fallen trees in Forest Hills last September.
Lucia and Bob back-filling.

Lucia hard at work.

Bob planting a tree.(Note LP in the background supervising another tree planting)

Mama spreads mulch and Adrian spreads Joy

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