Does anyone have recommendations for volunteer opportunities for a 7 year old kid in the NYC / NJ area? He wants to help other kids or maybe animals. What im not sure about is a safe place to start looking for opportunities to do something Saturday and Sundays in the morning.
The places I'd go to find out about volunteer opportunities would be:
- Your city/village hall - most likely there is either a department or at least a person who works with volunteer organizations, both to help coordinate city resources that might be needed, and to help direct various other people to them
- If you belong to a church, or even if you don't, churches often can direct you to organizations that are good for children (often non-religious organizations, but obviously if that is a problem consider that)
- Other major organizations like boy/girl scouts, for example, likely also have connections to various volunteer organizations.
If you're specifically interested in animals, then your local zoo (if one is nearby) will be a great resource, as would 4-H groups or similar organizations.
Specifically related to kids, you might try contacting a homeless or domestic violence shelter nearby. Many of them have needs, even as simple as playing with kids at the shelter, bringing spare toys, blankets, making things for them (7 year old can probably sew and or crochet effectively, if he wants to, at least mine can), etc. I co-founded a group at my college that did something similar with a local homeless shelter; in our case, as it was college age, we served a lunch once a month and took the kids to a museum or zoo a few times. It would be easier to find one through another resource probably, but if you don't have any luck it's worth reaching out directly; the bigger ones may have community outreach directors or similar.
A lot of children become interested in animals at this age. Consider contacting a local rescue group or animal shelter near your home. Your son may be able to help by preparing the animals meals (measuring food into the bowls), playing fetch with some of the dogs, cleaning or sweeping the area, and taking the dogs on walks (with supervision). Added bonus: your son would learn the responsibilities involved in having pets.
Keep in mind that you will be volunteering to work along side him - at least until he demonstrates reliability and the skills he'll need "for the job". Good luck to you both, please let us know what he chooses and how it goes!