“Do you allow children to volunteer?”
As the Community Engagement Program Manager, I get asked this question from parents, teachers, troops and youth leaders quite frequently. I am then happy to explain how Hands On Hartford values the time, perspective, and jovial spirit that children often provide when volunteering at our programs.
In fact, Hands On Hartford recently had the honor of partnering with over 100 volunteers or 33 families for Family Volunteer
Day on Saturday, November 21st. Family Volunteer Day is a day of service that celebrates the power of families who work together to support their neighbors and neighborhoods.
Presented by generationOn and sponsored by Disney Friends for Change, this event provided an opportunity for volunteers of all ages a chance to make a difference, while learning about the issues of poverty, food insecurity and homelessness, affecting the Hartford Community.
Families worked together, moving through several project stations to complete a no-sew scarf, decorate a gift bag, decorate a Christmas card, assemble a health kit, and finally place a pair of gloves, deodorant, and granola bar to complete one gift bag. Completed gift bags will benefit guests at Hands On Hartford’s soup kitchen at our Christmas Day Community Meal.
It was an educational and eye opening experience for most volunteers involved. While moving through project stations, families were challenged to dialogue with Hands On Hartford staff on why this project and our services are needed.
So, why does Hands On Hartford not only allow but actively encourage children to volunteer?
It’s quite simple. Volunteering is learning outside the classroom walls. Volunteering not only provides assistance to a nonprofit but it introduces engagement, service learning, and awareness to youth at an early age. Children, who are encouraged to volunteer, grow up viewing this time as beneficial, both to themselves and those being served. As a child matures, volunteering becomes natural and intertwined into his or her everyday life.
Volunteering as a family also leads to new connections and friendships. It provides the opportunity for youth and adults to cross the invisible boundaries that are often formed between those in need and those who lives are currently stable. Volunteering bridges this divide, leading to one community for all.
Program Manager – Community Engagement
Hands On Hartford