Myth: Kids are more likely to make a mess than a difference. Fact: Even pre-schoolers are able to perform simple tasks such as packing food cans into a bag, labelling a meal box, or flashing a wide smile to elderly folks who enjoy interacting with them. Charity begins at home, and the best way to help our little ones grow up with a greater awareness of needs in the community is to volunteer for meaningful causes as a family. When parents lead by example and with a positive spirit, these activities become fun and meaningful experiences forever etched in their minds. Here are three organisations where you can volunteer with your children from four to 12 years old in purposeful ways. 

1. The Food Bank Juniors Club

Sort out food donations, place them in goodie bags for distribution and even be a school ambassador for issues like food wastage and hunger in Singapore. The Food Bank Juniors Club gives children aged five to 12 the chance to play an active role in bringing food items and meals to needy beneficiaries. They also organises educational tours for them to visit local farms and waste management facilities, to gain insight into where food comes from and the consequence of food wastage. The end game: to gets kids thinking twice about leaving that last morsel on the plate and increasing awareness of the need for prudent food consumption.

The Food Bank’s chief food officer and Generation T honouree Nichol Ng says, “The tiniest of hands can take the biggest actions towards reducing food wastage. Every little bit matters!”

(Related: How The Magic Bus Programme Helps Children Break Out Of The Poverty Cycle)

2. The Volunteer Switchboard

More than just delivering a bag of groceries to the doorstep, The Volunteer Switchboard’s Home Sweet Home and Silver Moments programmes encourage families with young children to spend time with the beneficiaries to build stronger community relationships. In Home Sweet Home, volunteers visit with a goodie bag of food items, and linger on to interact with their elderly neighbours at Block 10 Jalan Kukoh. For the latter, meals and activities such as simple games and exercises as well as performances are organised every month for the elderly residents at Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Home. The Volunteer Switchboard is a ground-up initiative started by banking executive Li Woon Churdboonchart in 2013, to connect people wanting to do good with worthy causes in the community.

“We love having children at our volunteering events! We treat them as little adults and involve them in suitable tasks so that they feel they’ve made a difference.” Even if you’re there for the first time with your child, facilitators are at hand to guide and make it a positive experience.

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3. Willing Hearts

This soup kitchen welcomes families to participate in the preparation, cooking and distribution of about 5,000 daily meals to over 40 locations throughout Singapore all year round. Five to seven-year-olds can stick labels on lunch boxes, line them up and help to put them in the delivery baskets. Older ones can chop or peel vegetables, scoop rice into the lunch boxes or help to wash used trays, cutlery and dishes. There is always something for families to do. However, if there are enough people helping, it is best that parents keep an eye on children by not allowing them to run about in the busy kitchen.

(Related: CEO Jean-Christophe Babin On Bulgari's Partnership With Save The Children)

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