In these troublesome and controversial times, some people are looking for ways to give back and help in their communities. When people think of a typical “volunteer” they likely visualize an adult. But there are many fun, local volunteering opportunities for kids available. Volunteering can help kids gain empathy, learn much-needed local services, and it may prompt a habit of volunteering in their future.
Oregon has some great venues for kids to begin their experience with volunteering. Here are some options.
SafeHaven Humane Society
SafeHaven is an animal shelter that is in Tangent, Oregon. They promote animal education, animal welfare, and offer spay and neuter services. This company encourages kids to volunteer for: 1) dog socialization 2) cat socialization 3) fundraising event assistance 4) “happy tails reading program” assistance. For the reading program, ages K-8 are welcome to read to cats and dogs. The other opportunities allow kids to play with the pets, groom them, care for them, or assist with the animals during fundraising events. SafeHaven asks that kids under 16 years old are accompanied by an “adult volunteer” who is a caregiver, parent, or approved adult family member.
Here is the link for more information (you will also find the links for youth and adult volunteers through this link): https://safehavenhumane.org/volunteer-opportunities-for-kids/
Friends of Trees
Friends of Trees offers three different locations in Oregon to volunteer: Eugene, Portland, and Salem. Kiddos between the ages of 6-15 years old are welcome to volunteer at Friends of Trees varied events with an adult. Kids over the age of 15 are invited to volunteer without an adult. “Green space plantings” are recommended for 6 and up because the trees are small and manageable for young kiddos. “Neighborhood trees events” are geared for ages 10 and up because the trees are a little bigger and the volunteers go to multiple locations in the planting area.
For more contact information and volunteer forms, here is the link to the volunteering Frequently Asked Questions: https://friendsoftrees.org/volunteer-faq/
Oregon Food Bank
The Oregon Food Bank invites families and youth to pitch in with activities such as 1) food repack 2) garden education and 3) nutrition education. Children under the age of 16 need to be with an adult to volunteer.
There is a section listed “individuals and families” under this volunteer link: https://www.oregonfoodbank.org/get-involved/volunteer-2/
The Children’s Book Bank
This company does not have opportunities for youth to volunteer that I am aware of, but children could help this organization by donating 1) board books and 2) picture books. This wonderful service donates books to kiddos who live in low-income neighborhoods. Currently, due to the pandemic, “The Children’s Book Bank” is only taking donated books by appointment.
Here is the link for more information on how to donate books: https://www.childrensbookbank.org/give-books
Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels provides food and socialization assistance to seniors in Oregon communities for around 50 years. There are many opportunities for adults to help the organization. Some of the tasks cannot be completed by kids, but “Hope at Home” is something that kiddos can help with. “Hope at Home” asks youth volunteers to create artwork or letters for seniors and send them to this address: Meals on Wheels People, 7710 SW 31st Avenue, Portland OR. 97219. Also, artwork and letters can be sent to Meals on Wheels’ social media platforms: Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags: #HopeAtHome #mealsonwheels #mowp #feedingseniors.
More information about volunteering can be found at this link: https://www.mowp.org/volunteer/
Portland Homeless Family Solutions
PHFS aims to support families who are experiencing homelessness or transitioning from homelessness. Although most volunteers are eighteen or older, PHFS encourages families to volunteer. They ask that youth under 18 years old are accompanied by an adult. Tasks to help with can include laundry, meal prep, developing a space for an incoming family, or simply playing with kids who are in the facility. Training is involved, and you can choose to be a one-time volunteer or a regular volunteer.
Here is the link for more information: http://www.pdxhfs.org/become-a-volunteer
Oregon Humane Society
Unfortunately, the “youth volunteer program” is not accepting applications right now. Usually, they invite 12-17-year-olds to work with animals on a one-time basis or become a regular volunteer with a six-month commitment. But the OHS website encourages kiddos interested in volunteering to make dog and cat treats and drop them off at OHS. They are open 7 days a week, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and they can receive donations in the lobby. Their address is: 1067 NE Columbia Blvd. Portland, Oregon 97211.
Further information about youth volunteering can be found at this link: https://www.oregonhumane.org/get-involved/volunteer/youths-12-17/.
The recipe can be found at this link: https://www.oregonhumane.org/wp-content/uploads/Dog-Cat-Treat-Recipes-2019.pdf
KBOO Radio Station
Did you know KBOO has had volunteers as young as 9 years old? Me neither! KBOO welcomes volunteers of all ages and abilities. A wonderful opportunity for a kiddo who is interested in music and/or broadcasting. The types of volunteer opportunities are plentiful! Mailing out “thank you” gifts to fans of KBOO, producing news and social media content, and setting up and mixing live music are just a few of the many choices. There is a four-step process 1) fill out an online application 2) attend an orientation 3) talk with a volunteer coordinator and learn about trainings/schedule 4) complete your first assignment.
To learn more, head to this link: https://kboo.fm/get-involved-volunteer
Children’s Healing Arts Project
CHAP welcomes youth volunteers who are 11 years old and up. Between 11-13, the volunteer must be accompanied by an adult. This awesome organization aims to create beautiful and powerful art for kiddos who are dealing with an acute or chronic illness. Regular youth volunteers must attend an orientation and training. Once a volunteer is trained, they can assist with art projects or engage with the children whom the project aims to help.
Here is the link for the youth volunteer application for ages 13-17: https://secure.lglforms.com/form_engine/s/czKKSXuqxA-kLFdA5PPHUw.
Here is the link for more volunteering information: https://chappdx.org/volunteer/
Solve Oregon works hard to keep Oregon beautiful. Beach clean-ups, riverside clean-ups, picking up litter, removing invasive plant species, and planting native plant species. Solve offers many opportunities for kiddos. The minimum age depends on the type of activity on the events calendar. Some events say 10 years old, while others say 13 years old. The events calendar has tons of fun choices to help keep Oregon clean. The activity sections list the number of spots available, how long the event should last, and the date, place, and time.
Here is the link to their volunteering calendar: https://www.solveoregon.org/solvecalendar
The list seems to go on and on. Many local organizations welcome teenagers, or younger kids who can be accompanied by a parent/guardian, to volunteer. If there is a certain organization that you are fond of, feel free to ask if they have opportunities for your kiddo to participate in volunteering. There is a lot to be done in Oregon: domestic, environmental, animal, and food services seem to need help from volunteers often. There are many benefits that come with volunteering: helping others, gaining knowledge about needs and services, and developing an interest in helping the community are just a few of the benefits. Volunteering is a great way to spend quality time with your family and at the same time teach your kids about the importance of helping others.
Best of luck to you all in your volunteering adventures.