Volunteering with Kids

Investing in youth is one of the best ways to create a brighter future. Everyone with financial means should donate to a school, a classroom, or a non-profit organization whenever and wherever they can. Yet the best way to make a difference in the lives of children may be with time and energy. Volunteering as a coach, a tutor, a mentor, or even as a friend can give a child the comfort and confidence they need when going through a difficult time. And if you have children of your own, getting them involved early and often can show them firsthand just how much volunteering matters. If you’re ready to volunteer with children, or if you’re thinking about a career working with kids, the following guide has everything you need to get started.

Last Updated: 08/14/2020

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50 Kid-Focused (or Friendly) Volunteer Organizations

Whether you’re looking to serve children in your community or get your own kids involved in volunteering, it’s important to find the right organization. Not every charitable organization helps children directly nor does every charitable organization have volunteer opportunities available for kids. So, how do you find organizations that do? Don’t worry: We got you covered. Here are 50 organizations where you can volunteer to help kids yourself or where your kids can volunteer to help others in the community.

ASPCA: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is a humane society that offers pet adoption, animal shelters, and spray/neuter services across the United States of America. While the organization’s focus is not on kids, they do offer many opportunities for kids to volunteer and learn about animal wellness.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

Austin Pets Alive!: If you live in Austin, Texas, Austin Pets Alive! is a great place for you and your kids to volunteer. This organization offers pet adoption and animal fostering. Best of all: They have volunteer programs specifically for kids, separated into two different age groups: ages 12-17 and under 12 years old.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

GoEco: GoEco is an organization that will allow you and your family to travel the world while helping provide humanitarian aid in local communities and wildlife rehabilitation and ecological preservation within local reserves and parks. While individuals have to be at least 18 to volunteer, parents are generally allowed to volunteer with their kids.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

Kids Saving the Rainforest: If your family wants a little adventure, head over to Costa Rica to volunteer with Kids Saving the Rainforest. This organization offers full-day volunteer programs, as well as extended volunteer opportunities, in which you and your kids can help monitor, observe, and care for the wildlife animals at their sanctuary.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

Montana Wilderness Association: If you’re in Montana, this is a great volunteering opportunity for the whole family. Montana Wilderness Association is an organization committed to preserving forests and land in Montana. They have many youth volunteering opportunities where kids help perform trail maintenance by cleaning, building drainage structures, and brushing the trail corridor.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

SafeHaven Humane Society: If you live in Oregon or are traveling through the pacific northwest, SafeHaven Humane Society is a great place to volunteer. With certain programs specifically targeted to kids, you and your family could help care for animals, from getting cats and dogs socialized to educating the community about animal welfare.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

The Humane Society of the United States: The Humane Society of the United States is focused on every aspect of animal well-being across the nation. Boasting over 60 ways to volunteer, this organization has many opportunities for you and your family to get involved, from animal shelters to hitting the streets to educate people on welfare issues.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

Afterschool Alliance: Afterschool programs are a great way to get kids involved in a number of activities that keep them engaged and safe after school. There are many of these programs across the country, where you can volunteer. You could even create your own if one doesn’t exist in your area yet, with the help of AfterSchool Alliance.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Fronteering Travel Services: While Fronteering Travel Services is not an organization primarily focused on kids, they do have some programs that serve children across the country and world-at-large, from underprivileged kids to kids with autism and special needs. These programs are everywhere from rural Mississippi to Sri Lanka and include room and board.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Heart Math Tutoring: Heart Math Tutoring provides math tutoring to elementary school kids in impoverished areas in Charlotte, North Carolina. If you live in this area and want to help out, this can be a great way for you or your older kids to make a positive impact on the lives of younger kids.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Kids’ Book Bank: Kids’ Book Bank is an organization in Cleveland, Ohio that gives free books to children in need. If you live in that area (or close-by), this could be a great volunteering opportunity for you and your kids. Volunteering tasks range from boxing books in their warehouse to running book drives.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Reading Partners: Reading Partners is an organization that provides one-on-one tutoring to kids from low-income schools who are six months or more behind in reading proficiency. If you have a heart for this population, you and your teenage kids (14 or older) can volunteer to help. There are opportunities across the country.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

School on Wheels: School on Wheels provides free tutoring and mentoring to children and teenagers who live in shelters, vehicles, motels, group foster homes, and on the streets in southern California. If you live in that area, you can volunteer to become a tutor, as can your kids as long as they’re 12 or older.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

United Way: United Way does an incredible amount of good across the world, with focuses on education, income, and health. From organizing book drives to teaching kids literacy, there’s a lot you and your family can do as volunteers with United Way. Best of all: Volunteering opportunities exist across the country and world.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: No

Action for Healthy Kids: If you’re passionate about kids having access to healthier meals at school and nutrition education, then Action for Healthy Kids may be an organization for you to volunteer with. The organization provides guides and resources for you to bring change to schools in your area, including at your kids’ school/s.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Cooking Matters: Cooking Matters provides education and resources on healthy, affordable food choices in an attempt to help end childhood hunger. Your family could follow the program to eat healthy on a budget. You could also volunteer with the organization, which could include teaching courses on how to cook healthy, inexpensive meals.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Feeding America: Feeding America is an organization that aims to end child hunger by connecting children in struggling homes to soup kitchens, food pantries, and meal programs. You and your family could volunteer in any of these setting, with the help of Feeding America, and make a positive impact on children’s lives.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Feed the Children: Feed the Children is a nonprofit organization that fights child hunger through education, disaster response, providing food and water, and more. The organization offers many volunteering opportunities across America, from building boxes of food that will be delivered to families in need to teaching classes about nutrition. Kids and adults can volunteer.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

GrowingGreat: If you’re based in southern California and want your kids to learn how to plant vegetables and eat healthy, then GrowingGreat is a great organization for them to get involved with. You could participate as well! They have educational programs for kids aged 2-18, as well as programs for parents.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Hunger Free Colorado: If you’re in Colorado and looking for a great volunteer opportunity for the whole family, then Hunger Free Colorado is a great choice. This organization strives to connect individuals and families across the state to food resources. They’re currently looking for volunteers at their food resource hotline, as well as in photography and video production.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Los Angeles Regional Food Bank: If you’re in the Los Angeles area, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank is a great place to volunteer. Volunteers help out in the kitchen by boxing, sorting, and gleaning food that gets distributed to individuals and families in need. The minimum age requirement is 14, so your teenager can help, as well.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Clothes For Kids: Clothes For Kids is an organization that provides school clothing to students in the Seattle area whose families qualify for free or reduced meals at school. If you live in this area, you and your family could participate in clothing drives or donate old clothes. Even if you’re not a local, there are remote volunteer opportunities.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Family Giving Tree: If you live in the Bay Area, the Family Giving Tree is a great volunteering opportunity for the entire family. The organization provides supply-filled backpacks to those most in need. Volunteer tasks can range from packing backpacks with supplies to helping out in the office. There are also volunteer fairs you can help at.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Fit Kids: Fit Kids is an organization that provides physical activity programs for underserved children in the San Francisco Bay Area. Volunteers have to be at least 13 years of age, so this could be a great opportunity for you and your teenage kid/s. Volunteering tasks range from coaching sports to packing equipment bags.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Project Linus: Project Linus is a nonprofit organization that provides homemade blankets to children in need across the United States. There are many ways to get involved. You could drop off a blanket, attend a blanket-making day, help out at a volunteer drive, and so forth. The whole family can help out, too.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Ronald McDonald House: Since 1974, Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) has provided countless resources—including access to healthcare—to families who have sick children. Volunteer opportunities are available to individuals and families across the world, and include tasks ranging from cooking meals for families to simply being there for emotional support and nurturing.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Mission Accomplished: Mission Accomplished is a nonprofit organization based in Austin, Texas that provides resources and assistance to individuals and families in need. This includes doing laundry for homeless people and donating clothes. If you live in the Austin, Texas area, this can be a great volunteering opportunity for your entire family.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Wigs For Kids: For over 30 years now, Wigs for Kids has provided hair replacement and support for children who have lost their hair due to medical treatment or certain health conditions. You don’t have to donate hair to volunteer. Your whole family can volunteer at events like charity walks and 5k runs.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

A Precious Child: A Precious Child is a nonprofit organization that helps Colorado children and families facing difficult situations (such as abuse, neglect, poverty, and crisis) with their basic needs and beyond. If you live in the area, there are many volunteer opportunities available for you and your kids that are over 5 years old.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

For The Child: For The Child provides resources and support for children in southern California who have faced abuse, neglect, family dysfunction, or trauma. This ranges from mental health services to childcare. If you live in the area and want to make a difference in a child’s life, there are many volunteering opportunities.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Foster Love Project: Foster Love Project is a nonprofit organization in Pittsburgh that donates essential needs to foster kids in the community. The entire family can volunteer (kids 6 and older are welcome) at the donation center, which includes tasks like doing inventory, sorting donations, folding and straightening clothes, helping shoppers, and cleaning.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Housing Families First: If you live in the Richmond, Virginia area, then you should definitely consider volunteering with Housing Families First. This nonprofit organization helps families who are experiencing homelessness find permanent housing, as well as provides the services necessary to sustain housing. Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals, groups, kids, and families.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

My Stuff Bags Foundation: My Stuff Bags Foundations is a nonprofit organization that provides children of abuse, trauma, or neglect with supplies like clothes, games, and toys. Volunteer opportunities are available across the United States for kids, adults, groups, and families. Volunteer tasks range from filling up duffel bags to making blankets for kids.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth: Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) is a nonprofit organization in Las Vegas, Nevada that provides homeless kids with essential needs and access to services like shelters. Individuals, kids, and families can volunteer with NPHY, with tasks ranging from re-stocking food pantries to mentoring homeless and at-risk kids and teens.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Shoes That Fit: Shoes That Fit is a nonprofit organization that has been providing kids in need across the United States with brand new, properly fitting shoes since 1992. Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals and families alike. This includes purchasing and delivering shoes to kids and seeing the smile on their faces.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

The Children’s Shelter: The Children’s Shelter is a nonprofit organization in San Antonio, Texas that has provided a safe haven for child survivors of abuse, neglect, and abandonment since 1901. If you live in the area, you or your whole family can volunteer to work directly with the children at their emergency center.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Be A Mentor: Be A Mentor is a nonprofit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area that provides mentors for at-risk youth. While this isn’t really a volunteering opportunity for your kids, it can be a great one for you personally, if you’d like to become a mentor and make a positive impact on a child’s life.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is a great place to volunteer if you want to mentor kids (aged 5 through young adulthood) and help them become educationally successful, more confident, away from risky behavior, and capable of better relationships. This is more a volunteering opportunity for adults than kids or families.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Boys & Girls Clubs of America: Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a nonprofit organization that provides safe, fun places for kids to hang out and programs that help them excel in school and in life. Volunteer opportunities are available across the country, with tasks ranging from helping kids with their homework to coaching sports for kids.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Children’s Mentoring Connection of Hancock County: If you live in Hancock County in Ohio or even in its neighboring cities of Columbus, Cleveland, or Detroit, then Children’s Mentoring Connection may be a fit for you. This organization provides mentoring services for children in need. And unlike similar organizations, the whole family can help out and volunteer.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Kids Hope USA: Kids Hope USA is a nonprofit organization that provides mentors to kids. They do this by getting churches to volunteer members to go to schools and be a positive influence in kids’ lives. You can volunteer as an individual mentor or scholarship provider. Or you can join your church if they’re already involved.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

MENTOR: MENTOR (The National Mentoring Partnership) is a nonprofit organization that connects mentors with kids across the United States of America. While this isn’t really a volunteering opportunity for the whole family or kids, you yourself could volunteer to become a mentor and make a difference in a kid’s life today.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

MentorKids USA: MentorKids USA serves youth in under-served communities in the Phoenix area by providing services and mentors that help them succeed. You can volunteer with these kids helping at special events, fundraisers, and field trips, or volunteer on a weekly basis helping with academics, Bible lessons, gardening, sports, arts, and crafts.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Athletes For Kids: This is a great volunteering opportunity if you have a kid who is a high school athlete, though there are volunteer opportunities for adults as well. Athletes For Kids helps connect high school athletes in the Seattle area with children who have disabilities or special needs—to mentor them and be role models.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Courage League Sports: Courage League Sports is a nonprofit organization in the Des Moines, Iowa area that provides year-round sports and recreation programs for kids and adults who can’t go full-speed due to a disability. Kids can volunteer to be teammates and adults can volunteer to be coaches, teachers, trainers, administrators, and more.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Girls on the Run: Girls On The Run is a nonprofit organization that inspires and empowers young girls through running programs across the country. You can volunteer to help as a coach or a running buddy. This could be a couple of hours a year, a season, a month—whatever you have time for.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

KEENusa: KEEN stands for “Kids Enjoy Exercise Now,” which gives you an idea of what they do. This nonprofit organization provides youth with disabilities free, noncompetitive, one-to-one programs of exercise and fitness. You can volunteer to become a coach, and if you have a teenage kid, they can volunteer as well.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Kinetic Kids: Kinetic Kids is a nonprofit organization in Texas that provides sports, fine arts, and educational programs to kids with special needs. You can volunteer to help out at games or with teaching classes. Your whole family could volunteer at one-day events like Art Day, Outdoor Explorer, sports clinics, and program finales.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

Volo City Kids Foundation: Volo City Kids Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides free organized sports for kids in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Denver, Boston, Denver, New York City, and San Francisco. If you live in one of these seven cities, you can volunteer in many ways, ranging from coaching to being a referee.

  • Kid volunteers: No
  • Kid-focused: Yes

YMCA: YMCA is a nonprofit organization that provides camps, childcare, sports, STEM, leadership, food, fitness, health training, and more to kids (and even adults) across the country. There are many ways you and your family can volunteer with your local YMCA chapter, including coaching sports teams, teaching classes, fundraising, and more.

  • Kid volunteers: Yes
  • Kid-focused: Yes

50 DIY Kid Volunteering Ideas for Families

You don’t necessarily need a charitable organization to make a difference in the world. Whether you’re looking to help children in need or get your own kids involved in volunteering opportunities in the community, you can be proactive and do good in the world on your own. All you need is the motivation to make a positive impact and some good ideas to do so.

Here are 50 DIY (Do It Yourself) volunteering ideas you can do on your own or with your kids and family to help improve the lives of children or the community that you live in.

  • Go to a homeless shelter to cook or serve meals.
  • Volunteer at a local nursing home or assisted living facility.
  • Participate in a park clean-up event.
  • Volunteer at a Special Olympics event.
  • Adopt a local monument and keep it clean.
  • Set up a seed or plant exchange at your local church.
  • Volunteer to deliver Meals on Wheels.
  • Participate in a local walk or run that gives proceeds to charity.
  • Adopt a family for the holidays through a local organization that offers that.
  • Have your kids set up tables or hand out fruit at a local soup kitchen, if it’s allowed.
  • Decorate a senior center for the holidays.
  • Volunteer at a local hospital.
  • Start a community garden.
  • Keep food or water out for stray animals and call a local animal shelter to bring them in.
  • Put together activity boxes filled with games and puzzles and give it to kids at hospitals.
  • Write and deliver thank you cards to a local police statin.
  • Have your kid/s volunteer with Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
  • Write nice letters to deployed service members.
  • Make treats and deliver them to a local police station.
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
  • If your kids are older, they could volunteer to grade papers at an elementary school.
  • Hold a bake sale and donate profits to a charity.
  • Collect money for new playground equipment with SignUp Genius Payment.
  • Offer to foster pets in your home.
  • Pick up litter in your neighborhood.
  • Get the whole family to sell cold waters on a hot day and donate proceeds to charity.
  • Go to a local adoption event to help a pet rescue group.
  • Connect with a local organization to cook and deliver meals to people with illnesses.
  • Have your kids offer popsicles to garbage truck workers.
  • Gather canned foods to give to the local food bank.
  • Read stories to younger children at schools, daycares, libraries, or churches.
  • Offer to hand out tickets or seat people at a community theater.
  • Put together a neighborhood garage sale and donate the profits to charity.
  • Plant flowers at a local school or library.
  • As a family, produce a neighborhood newspaper, magazine, or e-letter.
  • Go caroling at Christmas time as a family to bring joy to the neighborhood.
  • Visit the GoFundMe medical fundraising page and choose as a family what to give to.
  • Volunteer to help staff or set up a booth at a local health fair.
  • Your teenage kid/s could become a mentor for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
  • Volunteer at a local nature center, farm, or zoo.
  • Offer to greet people or set up chairs at your church.
  • Donate toys to children organizations for the holidays.
  • Hold a bake sale or lemonade stand and donate the profits to charity.
  • Ask a local firehouse if you can help clean.
  • Make blankets and give them to your local homeless shelter at wintertime.
  • Put on a family car wash and donate proceeds to charity.
  • Have your kids write nice notes and hand them to helpful cashiers or librarians.
  • Your teenage kid/s could volunteer at afterschool programs for younger kids.
  • Volunteer to shelve books at a local library.
  • Find current local kid-friendly volunteer opportunities at VolunteerMatch.org.

Careers with Kids

If you love working with kids in a volunteering context, then you’d probably love doing it as your career as well. There are many ways you can help kids on a professional level. Deciding which job is best for you depends on what you like doing and what kind of education you’d like to obtain. To make it easier for you to decide on a job, here are four kid-focused career paths you can take.

Teacher

If you’re passionate about a certain subject, then teaching may be the job for you. Every day at work, you’ll get to provide knowledge that kids will be able to apply inside and outside of the classroom. You’ll not only help them advance to the next grade level, but you’ll also help them become smarter people, which is a valuable asset that the world always needs.

On top of that, teachers get to be a positive role model in kids’ lives, which is especially important for kids who may not have the best home life. This is truly an honorable profession.

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Psychology

If you want to help kids on a deeper level, then you may want to consider a job in the psychology field. Whether you become a child therapist or a guidance counselor at a school, a career in kid-focused psychology can be very fulfilling. You can help kids open up about issues that they’re not comfortable telling anyone else or aren’t equipped to fix on their own. You can also help them make big life decisions, like where to go to college.

Best of all: You’re making a big difference in kids’ lives, being a good role model, and equipping them for adulthood.

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Public Health

If the idea of teaching kids healthy habits while they’re still young appeals to you, then you may want to consider a career in public health.

While this field has a wide range of jobs—from health educators to public health researchers—its importance can’t be underestimated, especially when it comes to keeping kids healthy. Children especially could benefit from good health education and resources, since they’re particularly vulnerable to certain issues and often think they’re invincible.

Public health may be the job for you if you want to make an impact on children in a big way. There’s no telling how many lives you could touch.

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Social Work

There are a lot of kids out there who need help. Whether they’re homeless, have experienced violence, or have an illness, social workers can make a big difference in their lives. If just reading that gets your blood pumping, then you may want to consider a career in this field.

Social workers can work in a variety of settings, from homeless shelters to hospitals. No day is the same. Every day you’re making a direct impact—one with tangible results that you can see. As a social worker working with children, you’ll have a very meaningful career that you can feel good about.

Public health may be the job for you if you want to make an impact on children in a big way. There’s no telling how many lives you could touch.

Learn more: