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Connection Corner

Encourage volunteering in your family

a family picking up trash in the park

Volunteering together can be a great way for families to spend time with each other.  Additionally, volunteering as a family has been shown to significantly impact the amount teens volunteers. America’s Promise found that 81% of teens who had one adult family member or role model who volunteered reported volunteering themselves (Child Trends, 2006).

If volunteering is new to your family, be sure to take some time to discuss each other’s interests and what you might be interested in doing. Take time to learn about some of the needs in your community  from your local schools, libraries, animal shelters, non-profits, and park districts. Once you learn about some local needs, brainstorm ways you could help. Be sure to think about the time you have available, the abilities and interests of your family members, and the logistics of the project you would like to help with. Once you have identified and made a plan for your project, make sure to carry it out. For more specifics on how to get your family involved in volunteering, check out the “Volunteering: A learning opportunity” article from Minnesota Extension.

If you are struggling to think of ideas, there are many great resources online to help you learn more about the great opportunities and organizations for families to volunteer. Schools are one place that are always looking for volunteers. Now is a great time to check with your local schools to see what volunteer opportunities are available. Here are some ideas to check out at schools:

  • Hold a used book sale and donate the money.
  • Tutor students who are learning English as a second language.
  • Make new kid survival kits for new students at the school.
  • Collect school supplies to give to kids who need them.
  • Form a study group to help kids with their school work.
  • Collect children's books for the library
  • Tutor a student that needs help learning English or some other subject.

If you are interested in more volunteer ideas, check out this amazing collection of 366 community service ideas from our colleagues in Nebraska Extension.



Judy Schmidt provides leadership to 4-H metro programming in Peoria County. Schmidt joined Extension in 2001, working as a Youth Development Educator at the East Peoria Center and joined the Fulton-Mason-Peoria-Tazewell Unit in 2011. Her work focuses on 4-H youth development programming in the local metropolitan area, specifically leading positive youth development initiatives for after-school programs, community groups, 4-H clubs, and other youth-serving organizations. Her areas of expertise include positive youth development principles, youth leadership, and work with teens as teachers.

Schmidt attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her bachelor's degree in psychology and also for her master's degrees in Social Work and Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a certified facilitator of the Matrixx System/Real Colors program by the National Curriculum and Training Institute.


Connection Corner: is a blog that provides timely information, activities, and resources to help you stay connected to loved ones, the world around you, and yourself.