I am always on the hunt for places my kids can volunteer, I want them to learn at an early age how rewarding volunteering is. I want them to learn how helping can help brighten another person’s day and bring their community together. April is National Volunteer Month but it’s always a good time to help out your community.
Kids learn by example and believe it or not most of us volunteer in our daily lives and don’t even realize it. Do you coach your son’s baseball team? Maybe you are a Girl Scout leader. Are you on the PTO/PTA at your child’s school? Then, you are already a volunteer! Just giving back an hour a month to pick up trash in your park, or sort supplies at a food bank is volunteering. Why not find a way to include your whole family?
Why is volunteering as a family so important?
- It brings your family together working as a team to help complete a goal.
- Lets us be positive role models for our children and their peers.
- Shows kids how to care for others.
- It’s rewarding, lets your family be proud of something.
- Give the community more pride.
- Shows others that people care about them.
- Teaches responsibility, sacrifice, tolerance and even in some cases job skills.
- Brings communities together, when friends find out you are volunteering they may want to become more involved as well.
Tips for choosing a Family Volunteer Project with kids
- Have a family meeting to discuss what is important to each of you and lay out a game plan.
- Do you want to work outdoors and clean up a park or creek?
- Are you better at organizing and want to help a food bank organize supplies and collect more food to fill the shelves.
- Do you like to work with the elderly? Visit a senior center and spend time playing games or talking with residents
- Once you have decided on the type of volunteering you want to do, pick a date(s) and times you have available.
- Find a project that meets your list of factors.
- Contact an organization you know or one from our list of places kids can volunteer in New Jersey to get started.
12 Places Kids Can Volunteer in New Jersey
Places Kids Can Volunteer in Northern New Jersey
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Union County, NJ
Community Food Bank of New Jersey – Hillside
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey welcomes volunteers ages 12 and older, by appointment. Volunteers are needed to sort and pack food for distribution, assist with mailings, and collect food and turkeys for food drives. Family days for ages 6-11 are also posted when available. Learn more at their website.
Places Kids Can Volunteer in Central New Jersey
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Hunterdon County, NJ
United Way of Hunterdon-Hunterdon County, New Jersey
If you are looking for a great way to get involved with family and the community, Amy at the Hunterdon County United Way can direct you in the way your family fits best. The United Way helps individuals and families all over the county. Coming up this winter there are many activities including Day of Caring, Tools 4 School and Holiday Hands. Learn more at their website.
The Salvation Army – Flemington, NJ
Families can volunteer through any number of activities including a weekly soup kitchen. Check out their website for something that works best for your family. Learn more at their website.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Middlesex County, NJ
Elijah’s Promise – New Brunswick, NJ
Elijah’s Promise operates a community soup kitchen, pay as you go café and connects low-income families to health and social services. Volunteers are needed to help prep food in the kitchen and café, sort and distribute clothes, washing dishes and several other opportunities. Age requirements vary based on the activity but 12-17 requires adult supervision. Learn more at their website.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Monmouth County, NJ
Second Life Bikes – Asbury Park, NJ
Second Life Bikes goal is to provide youth with positive opportunities and recreational activities through bicycling. Second Life Bikes repurposes old bikes and uses them for their youth programs. Volunteers at Second Life Bikes work in the shop or help organize youth programs. Learn more at their website.
Fulfill NJ- Neptune, NJ
The Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties welcomes volunteers age 13 and up. Hours are Monday- Friday 9 to 5 but additional hours may be available. Learn more at their website.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Somerset County, NJ
St. Hubert’s Animal Shelter-North Branch, New Jersey
You must be at least 18 years of age before you can work directly with the animals. Junior volunteers ages 16 and 17 may volunteer in all non-animal handling roles. This includes greeting, cleaning, special events and administrative duties. Learn more at their website.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Warren County, NJ
Common Sense for Animals-Broadway, New Jersey
There are so many ways to volunteer at Common Sense for Animals in Warren County. From cleaning cages to helping with mailers volunteers young and old can help to promote adoption of animals. Volunteers under age 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Learn more at their website.
Places Kids Can Volunteer in Southern New Jersey
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Atlantic County, NJ
Community Food Bank of New Jersey – Egg Harbor Township
The Community Food Bank of New Jersey welcomes volunteers ages 12 and older, by appointment. Volunteers are needed to sort and pack food for distribution, assist with mailings, and collect food and turkeys for food drives. Learn more at their website.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Camden County, NJ
Food Bank of South Jersey – Pennsauken, NJ
The Food Bank of South Jersey welcomes volunteers ages 13 and older. 13-15 year olds need to be accompanied by an adult. Volunteering is done by appointment only and volunteers must attend a mandatory training. Learn more at their website.
Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Gloucester County, NJ
Angel of God Clothing Closet – Pitman, NJ
Angel of God Clothing Closet welcomes kids of all ages (accompanied by a parent) as volunteers. Volunteers will help sort, wash and organize donated clothing. Volunteer forms are available on the Angel of God website. Learn more at their website.
Places kids can do volunteer work from home
Lets face it, sometimes in our busy schedules, its hard to go and volunteer but doing for others is still in your heart. There are ways to encourage your family to think of others from the comfort of their very own home.
Color A Smile– Morristown, New Jersey
Join thousands as you color a picture and entice a smile from elderly, military personnel or anyone in need of a pick me up. Simply coloring a picture and sending it to Color A Smile children can make others feel that they are loved. Check out their website for more information or how to send a subscription of smiles to someone in need. Learn more at their website.
8 More ways kids can volunteer
- Visit your local food bank.
- Go to your local senior center do arts & crafts, play a board game.
- Contact your local animal shelter see if there is a way to volunteer.
- Organize a neighborhood or community clean up day.
- Help distribute meals at a shelter.
- Have a lemonade or bake sale and donate profits to a local charity.
- Visit a children’s hospital and read a story or put together an activity box for patients.
- Check with your school or church for on location volunteer opportunities.
A great resource to look for volunteer opportunities is State Farm’s Neighborhood of Good. Check often as new programs are added from time to time.
Community Service projects kids can do from home
All of the organizations listed above are looking for volunteers and donations not just during the holiday season but year round. If your child is not old enough to volunteer then they can help give back by collecting clothes, food, or toiletries for donation.
Our church asks for sandwiches monthly and we make it a get together for my daughter and her friends. Maybe counting Box Tops for the school, or assembling some goodie bags for a community meal?
5 Easy Volunteer Ideas for Kids & Families that Really Make a Difference
Most families agree that two of the most important lessons to be taught are developing strong character and being a good citizen of the world. Of course, those lessons are part of a parent’s everyday…be nice to your brother, say “thank you,” don’t litter. But how do you find opportunities that put those lessons into action as memorable life experiences?
Lynne Algrant, Executive Director of the Bergen Volunteer Center in Hackensack says, “Volunteering is the ideal way to show children of any age that the universe does not revolve around them. It shows that anyone can make a valuable contribution in this life.
“Volunteering is a terrific family activity. Watching a child go from receiver to giver is a moment that a parent never forgets. For the child, seeing or imagining the result of his efforts…a tidy yard, a smiling soldier, positive response to a community project…well, that is the beginning of a lifetime habit of helping others.”
Algrant, herself the parent of two teenagers, continued: “While they enjoy the self-satisfaction of doing good, kids who volunteer build up their self-esteem. They learn new skills and teamwork, they network, and they get a front seat to see how organizations operate. It’s no wonder that studies show that they do better in school.”
How do you find meaningful volunteer projects for families and kids?
You may have an agency like the Bergen Volunteer Center, which matches prospective volunteers with agencies that need help in and around Bergen County, NJ. Volunteers can go to its website, bergenvolunteers.org, to search its extensive database of volunteer opportunities filtered by volunteer age, location, date and more.
Looking for ideas? Here are five to get you started, wherever you are.
5 Easy Volunteer Ideas for Kids Ages 5 & Up
Easy Volunteer Ideas for Kids Ages 5 and older
- Mail to the military: Deployed troops love to receive mail! From drawing a picture, to hand-writing letters, to putting together SOS boxes that include (approved) items like gum and books, families and children of any age can contribute to the morale of those protecting our nation, a great family service project to honor a beloved veteran on his anniversary.
GOOD FOR INDIVIDUALS, FAMILIES, SCOUT GROUPS. AGES 5+
- Feed the Volunteers: Volunteers too young to work on large projects, like Habitat for Humanity, can fill a critical role—by setting up and cleaning up the daytime meal for other hard-working volunteer laborers.
GOOD FOR SUPERVISED GROUPS OR FAMILIES. AGES 7+
- Tray Favors: Recipients of programs like Meals on Wheels, or nursing home residents, are typically shut-ins who enjoy cheery little surprises that are sometimes included with their meal trays. These treats can be anything from seasonal cards, homemade cookies, or bright crafts.
GOOD FOR SUPERVISED GROUPS OR FAMILIES. AGES 5+
Easy Volunteer Ideas for Tweens and Teens
- Social Media Helper: Computer users who are older, disabled, or otherwise isolated can discover a new world by connecting with relatives, friends and like-minded contacts using social media. Young, tech-savvy volunteers can teach or answer questions from beginning users.
GOOD FOR INDIVIDUALS. AGES 12+
- Pantry Helper—Community food pantries are often understaffed. Deliveries can be unpredictable; for instance, a large shipment, which might include perishables, might arrive with little or no notice. Workers are needed to arrange and organize pantry items so clients can easily obtain what they need, and waste is minimized.
GOOD FOR INDIVIDUALS OR SMALL GROUPS. AGES 10+
Where else can you find ways to volunteer with your family?
- Volunteer NJ
- Make A Wish NJ Chapter
- Jersey Cares
- Clean Ocean Action
- Generation On
- United Way
- Youth Service America
- Doing Good Together
Do you know a place kids can volunteer in New Jersey? Let us know so we can add it to our list.
Giving back is a great way to give thanks and is a great lesson to teach kids this holiday season. You can read about other family community service projects in our Make a Difference series.