Volunteering Children: Do-gooders

Read about being a mother of 12 as our resident 'Supermom' shares her wise parenting advice.

In my youth, there was a local clergyman who would come to my school, and ask for a number of volunteers. Anybody who went with him got out of a few classes, so most of us did want to go. He took us to an old age home and a couple of times to a home for retarded adults. We just spent time with the people, talking to them, playing games, and sometimes we'd sing them a few songs.

I remember so well how, on the ride home, the good feeling from what I'd just done filled me up. I couldn't wait to do it again. And do it again, I did. I volunteered my time over and over again, and not just with that clergyman who came to the school, but in other ways, as well. A friend's father asked us to work out a few songs. He'd take us to an old age home where my friend would sing, and I'd accompany her on the piano. After the performance, we'd spend time talking with the old folks, and they really did enjoy having us around. We loved the idea that we had an audience, and continued these little performances for many years.

I knew I was too old to go trick or treating

When I reached the age of 11, I knew I was too old to go trick or treating for Halloween, but I thought of the institution around the corner from my house that cared for crippled children in our area. I would go around the neighborhood getting candy, as usual, but I'd donate the candy to the home. I felt twice blessed that year: I got to dress up one more time, and I did a good deed. Later, when I turned 17, I knew I'd outgrown my comic book collection, and I brought them over to the Home for Crippled Children, as well.

A wonderful idea for that age that's in-between

In the last several years, I've seen a movement toward volunteerism for kids. I think this is fine and very encouraging. Kids who spend time volunteering learn empathy for others, and they also learn not to be afraid of those who are different than themselves. I've seen stories in women's magazines about mothers who took their kids to soup kitchens instead of making birthday parties. This is a wonderful idea for that age that's in-between: too old for a party, too young to give up the idea that the day needs to be marked in some significant way.

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