Volunteering can help you make friends, learn new skills and even improve your physical and mental health.

So why wait until you’re an adult to start? Check out these innovative ways to get your children involved in service. Once they learn how great it feels to make a difference, chances are good they will become life-long volunteers.

Young children (5-8 years old)
Your little one may be into crayons and baby dolls, but they can still catch the magical feeling that comes from making someone’s day better. A visit from children can bring much-needed energy and social interaction to nursing home residents. In fact, a nursing home in Seattle has installed a childcare center inside the facility, allowing the children and residents to interact and learn from each other.

Older children (9-14)
Volunteering is a terrific way to teach older children about responsibility. At this age children can pitch in to help the homeless, work with wildlife, and support people in the military, to name a few. Operation Gratitude collects, packages, and sends donated items to deployed service members. Any parent of a “tween” will tell you they tend to run in packs. Collecting and preparing care packages for the troops is a great way for friends to spend time together while making a difference.

High School Age (14-17)
Volunteering in high school is a fantastic way to get service hours, sharpen your skills and make connections for the future. Whether it’s tutoring children in an after-school program, coaching a team in a favorite sport, or mentoring younger people, this is the time for teens to put their skills to use.

Read the full article about opportunities for young people to volunteer by Grace Kennedy at GreatNonprofits.org.