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My daughters, age 8 and 10, would like to do some volunteer work, something like helping feed the hungry, helping injured pets, cleaning up parks, etc. Something beyond helping with stuff at school, which we do when we can. I know some folks whose churches do things, but we are not religious.

I've contacted some different orgs in our area but they all want kids to be at least 14 or 15. I'm having a really hard time locating such orgs. I would not object to getting them involved in volunteer opportunities organized by a religious organization as long as there was no proselytizing of any kind involved.

Where can I look to find such organizations or volunteer opportunities? We are in Washington state if that helps...

Also, I want to make it clear that we aren't just trying to unload our kids for a few hours -- my wife or myself would be 100% eager to be doing the work right next to our kids, or not if that's how it worked...

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Have you looked at volunteermatch.org? They let you search for opportunities for kids (kids/teens/adults/groups). –  Swati Apr 19 '12 at 18:59
    
We're currently evaluating our site, and this question is one we are seeking feedback on. Everyone, please visit this meta question and chime in with your thoughts and votes! –  Beofett Jun 8 '12 at 15:35
    
Related: There's a proposal to open a Scouting Stach Exchange site that we should follow. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Sep 4 '12 at 15:00
    
@Torben. Scouting (especially in the USA) doesn't exactly count as "non-religious". –  TRiG Jan 17 '13 at 8:56
    
@TRiG: I've got the same challenge here in Austria. Ugh... –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 17 '13 at 9:29
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm about as atheist as they come, but still will help out with community volunteer efforts with the church. Point being that a lot of churches welcome all volunteers and aren't making it an overtly religious task, but rather a community task.

Granted, a lot of churches do make it a proselytizing event as well, so you may have to shop around.

Perhaps focus on the Humanist/Unitarian side of the religious spectrum.

Other places to consider contacting:

  • local humane society
  • local va office
  • local parks/rec district
  • habitat for humanity
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What's a "va office"? –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 20 '12 at 11:25
    
Veterans Affairs –  DA01 Apr 20 '12 at 14:05
    
wow that's definitely USA-specific, I would never have guessed it. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 20 '12 at 14:15
    
yes, apologies for that. I assume similar org's exist in other nations, though? Maybe there's a more generic term for that. (Granted, other nations probably take care of their veterans better, but now I digress... ;) –  DA01 Apr 20 '12 at 14:16
    
umm, most of the European veterans are dead by now I guess? Anyway, digressing. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 20 '12 at 14:18
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The National Parks have a "Junior Ranger Badge" that can include picking up trash around the park and completing a few activities for your kids to earn. It is a great program (doesn't always include clean up, but it can if you want it to).

I don't know if Second Harvest is in Washington, but if it is you might be able to encourage your child's teacher to involve the whole class. You go and harvest foods from farms where the machines have already gleaned the field and you and the kids get the remaining food missed by the machines. That food then goes to a soup kitchen.

You can also ask at your local scouting office for information about programs they recommend to their leaders. Or go to your local 4-H extension office and ask the same question there.

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Our local, free newspaper is run by a guy who organizes a town-wide clean-up day every spring (among other things). If you have a similar paper in your area, consider sending them an email -- since it is easier to forward to the right person, possibly saving you a brush-off on the phone -- asking what they know about opportunities.

Or better yet, call the library. OH, THE LIBRARY! Our library keeps a list of pre-teen kids who are willing to volunteer with the very young ones during craft activities, for example, or to listen to book reports during the Summer Reading Program. We love our library.

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