How to Include Youth Volunteers in Nonprofit Work

At a young age, opportunities to get involved in your community can feel few and far between. For children and teens who want to get into volunteering, this can be discouraging and often deters them from looking for volunteer opportunities at all. We believe there is a spot for all volunteers in the Richmond nonprofit community and would like to help more kids get immersed in the community.

Here are four organizations where younger volunteers can get involved:

Ronald McDonald House

The goal of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond (RMHC) is to create and find programs that provide resources for families with sick children in their time of need. With this being its mission, it makes for a perfect opportunity for other families to get involved. RMHC provides a wish list, including items such as stuffed animals, snacks and batteries. All these items go toward making the Ronald McDonald House a home for the families. A way to get more involved in this process would be hosting a wish list drive. You can recruit help from your school, neighborhood, business or civic group in donating these much-needed items. For any questions regarding the RMHC wish list, you can contact Diana Villarreal at diana@rmhc-richmond.org.

Another way to support RMHC from home is the off-site opportunities. Families can donate and assemble bags to help a variety of people. These bags include grab-n-go bags, activity packs, toiletry kits and NICU baby packs. If interested, visit here for more information.

Sails Angels

Sails Angels Richmond is an organization made up of local canoeing effeminates and paddlers dedicated to promoting these experiences, encouraging good treatment of the natural river surroundings and sharing this with the less fortunate. The organization hosts full- or half-day river cleanups on the James River. It is looking for individuals and small groups (4-12 people) who are passionate about keeping the local water clean. Children as young as 5 years old can volunteer with an adult, and teenagers 18 and up can volunteer on their own. For details on specific clean-ups, check here.

Children’s Museum of Richmond

The Children’s Museum of Richmond simply may seem like a place your children could go to play, but it’s not all the museum has to offer. Its goal is to encourage learning through play in young children. Both museum locations in Richmond and Chesterfield offer interactive programs and services that promote early learning, development, literacy and healthy living.  Volunteers ages 11 (with an adult) and up are encouraged to come assist with the Art Studio, tidying up exhibits, managing inventory for its Book Bank and more. Children 14 and older can volunteer without an adult. Opportunities are available for a wide range of ages, experiences and skill sets. For more information, visit the museum website here.

DIY Volunteering

Do it yourself (DIY) volunteering is a great way for kids to take control of their own volunteering. Either with a family or group, DIY volunteering allows for all ages and sizes to participate in flexible and meaningful community service opportunities. The teams will purchase the necessary items, assemble the project and then drop off the completed project to a designated location. These opportunities are organized by HandsOn Greater Richmond and are updated monthly with new organizations to support.

If you are looking for volunteering experiences, the Opportunity Search by HandsOn Greater Richmond is the place to start. There is a feature available to filter by age of participant so you can ensure your children are getting the most out of their volunteer time.

There are plenty of family volunteering opportunities out there, you just have to know where to look!

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