From babies and toddlers to busy teens, we have options for every age group
BY ISHANI NATH
It’s truly never too early to start helping others. A 2017 study by charity website ECHOage found that children can be meaningful contributors to philanthropic organizations, and that they even hold influence over the adults in their lives when it comes to charitable giving and volunteering.
Giving back is good for kids, too. Whether it’s participating in a charity event or signing up for a volunteer program, teaching kids the value of giving back helps everyone. Several studies have shown that volunteering improves people’s health and overall well-being. Kids can also develop new skills, become more empathetic and (hopefully) make some great friends along the way.
However, many non-profits restrict their volunteer programs to teens who are at least 14 years old, so it can be challenging for young children to find opportunities to give back—but not impossible. Here are a few ways to help kids get into the spirit of giving back, no matter what their age.
For babies and toddlers
The organization:ECHOage Who it helps: A wide range of organizations, including WWF, Make-A-Wish Canada and the Canadian Cancer Society Pitch in: Turn your tot’s next birthday bash into a party that not only celebrates them, but also causes that reflect their interests. (Animals? Sports? The environment? ECHOage has an option for that.) This online service sends out e-card invitations that give recipients an option to donate funds, which are split between a group-funded gift for the birthday tot, as well as a charitable donation. Nota bene: There is no designated amount that guests are required to contribute. If guests don’t have an email address, the website also provides a “party link,” where guests can RSVP and donate.
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The organization:Sleep Country’s Give a Kid a Coat Program Who it helps: Salvation Army and families in need of winter clothing Pitch in: Encourage your little ones to clear out their gently used clean winter coats, hats and mittens—or put their allowance towards buying some new items—so other children can keep warm this season. Nota bene: Donations can be dropped off at any Sleep Country location and are given to the Salvation Army to be distributed to families in need.
The organization:United Way’s CN Tower Climb Who it helps: The United Way has wide-reaching social services to help communities and lift individuals out of poverty. Pitch in: The annual event, held in November (Nov. 2-3 in 2019), challenges participants to raise funds—and their heart rates—by climbing the CN Tower’s 1,776 steps. Nota bene: Participants under 18 must be affiliated with a school or youth group and accompanied by a chaperone over the age of 21. Climbers under the age of 12 must also be at least 42 inches tall.
The organization:Belmont House Who it helps: Seniors Pitch in: Your teen can become a “friendly visitor,” who spends time sharing stories, playing Scrabble or learning how to knit with seniors living in Belmont House. Not only does this program provide companionship to residents, but your kid may just make a new friend. Nota bene: Volunteers must be 15 or older and complete a health assessment and police check.
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