If the summer doldrums are kicking in at your house, here's one way to keep school-aged kids busy: They can volunteer.
I checked in with Dalia Santos over at the United Way of the Greater Triangle, who offered these suggestions. Most are appropriate for middle school and high school students, but some would work for grade schoolers. Santos also offered some tips over the holidays and many of those would still be great activities for kids. Click here for ideas for younger kids. Click here for ideas for older kids.
Here's what else Santos suggests:
- Collect food: Food banks are always in need no matter the season. Not only do they need help at their warehouses, they need food. Partnering with a local organization as a drop off point or even going around the neighborhood to organize a food drive would benefit the food bank. To learn more about what the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina needs, contact Calvin Calvin McCommons, the Raleigh volunteer coordinator, at 919-865-3024, or the Durham volunteer coordinator Marcia Corprew at 919-956-2513. Kids ages 12 to 17 years of age are welcome to volunteer at the food banks with a parent/guardian during normal volunteer hours. Children 5 to 11 years of age are welcome to volunteer during the Kids Day program which takes place every second and fourth Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Contact the food bank for details.
- Give blood: Kids as young as 16 (with parental consent) can give blood, something that's important year round. They can contact their local Red Cross. There are offices in Durham, Orange and Wake counties. They also can learn from the Red Cross how to prepare for hurricane season and hold information sessions for their neighborhood.
- Be a farmer: Inter-Faith Food Shuttle has a paid internship called the Young Farmers program. The application deadline has passed for this summer's program. But kids can still volunteer. To just help out on the Food Shuttle community gardens or in many other capacities at the food shuttle, click here to learn about all of the opportunities. Kids can volunteer for most jobs, except as drivers and drivers' assistants.
- Swim: Kids of all ages can swim and raise money for multiple sclerosis. Swim for MS is a program of the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America. Anyone who has access to a pool can participate.
- Hospital helpers: Volunteering at hospitals is also a good summer opportunity. Most have youth volunteer programs (though application deadlines have passed for some of them, but make a note for next year). Click on the links for details on volunteering at WakeMed, Rex Hospital, Durham Regional, the Ronald McDonald House, UNC Healthcare and Duke Medicine.
- Head to the library: And libraries have volunteer opportunities. Check with your local library for details.
To search for other volunteer opportunities, check the United Way's Volunteer Solutions website.