By: Debra Eschmeyer Read Time: 2 minutes

In my household, we start many family meals by sharing something we’re grateful for. It can be as small as the smile shared with a neighbor or an upcoming dance party at school. 

And with the precursor to a holiday season often marked by abundance, November and December are special months of gratitude. It is a time to be thankful for what we have and to give back to our communities. We encourage every family to explore the ways, big and small, each of us can give back and make a difference. 

Recent studies have indicated that volunteering may have positive impacts on kids’ well-being. From reducing anxiety (especially important as young people continue to experience a mental health crisis in America) to boosting happiness, physical health, and overall well-being, the benefits of volunteering can be felt personally as well as communally. Establishing volunteering as a core family value from an early age is important to cement it as a lifelong commitment. 

We’ve gathered a few suggestions to help implement a practice of giving into your family: 

  • Make It Fun: No one wants to stick to something that feels like a chore. Find a way to volunteer that appeals to your child’s or family’s interests. For example, if your son loves animals, find a local animal shelter or wildlife rescue to support. Alternatively, if your daughter loves spending time outdoors, take her on a nature walk to collect trash. 

  • Make It Easy: Volunteering doesn’t need to take all day. Try to think of small moments throughout the day or week to encourage your kids to think about how they can give back. For example, you may ask your kids to take five minutes and choose a book or toy they aren’t interested in anymore to donate to a local drive. 

  • Make It A Routine: Whether it is volunteering at a soup kitchen once a year or lending a helping hand at a senior center on a regular basis, making volunteering a part of your family’s routine helps kids understand that volunteering is just as important as other activities in their lives, like school, work, or sports.  

  • Make It Collaborative: Friends make everything more fun. Encourage your kids’ to invite a friend along when volunteering. Having someone to share this experience with will make it all the more meaningful. 

PLEZi Nutrition is proud to support FoodCorps, a national nonprofit that places AmeriCorps service members alongside educators and school nutrition leaders to provide kids with nourishing meals, food education, and culturally affirming experiences with food that celebrate and nurture the whole child. If you are interested in getting involved in your school, check out their resources here. As you plan your next volunteer outing as a family, grabbing a pack of PLEZi is the perfect way to keep your kids fueled and support a larger cause at the same time.