With the holiday season approaching, it’s important to cultivate a sense of community, compassion and empathy in our kids. Volunteering is not only a great way to teach children the value of helping others and giving back to their communities; it’s also a wonderful way to bond as a family! Here in Cincinnati, there are lots of organizations that welcome the help of the littlest volunteers.
Today we are sharing the best volunteer opportunities in Cincinnati for families:
Adopt a Book Ohio
Adopt a Book is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing at-risk kids with books of their own. It was started by local 12-year-old twins as a way to help every Cincinnati child have access to books. Get your kids involved by having them donate their used books at a drop-off site; collect their friends’ books for donations or even organizing a classroom book drive!
Anthony Muñoz Foundation
The Anthony Muñoz Foundation Whiz Kids Program is a one-on-one after school tutoring program for at-risk students. This program focuses on aiding 25 Kindergarten-5th graders with their reading skills. Tutors must be 16 years old, and do not need prior tutoring experience.
The Behringer-Crawford Museum is a center for the collection, presentation, study and enjoyment of Greater Cincinnati’s natural, cultural, visual and performing arts heritage. Jobs for teens include greeting, grounds keeping and working with education groups during their visits. During the holidays, teens over 14 can run the train exhibits (following the completion of a 4-hour training session).
Cincinnati Nature Center
Volunteers are important members of the Cincinnati Nature Center community and play an integral role in the daily operation of the Nature Center. There are lots of family friendly opportunities for volunteer work, including trail maintenance and cleanup, special event setup and even maple syruping!
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
If your child loves the Zoo, they should join its VolunTeens program! This program is designed for teens 13-17 who love nature and the Zoo. There are VolunTeen opportunities in the Education Department, Children’s Zoo, Horticulture, Green Team and T.R.I.B.E.
The Freestore Foodbank is one of Ohio’s largest food banks, distributing 20 million meals annually through a network of about 260 community partner agencies serving 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available for individuals, families and groups.
Gorman Heritage Farm
Volunteers are critical to the survival of Gorman Heritage Farm. Anyone can volunteer at Gorman Heritage Farm because there is a job for everyone! Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult while volunteering.
HEARTT Animal Refuge
HEARTT Animal Refuge is a no-kill, all-volunteer organization founded in 2007. Its volunteers help out in almost every aspect of day-to-day operations, performing duties such as cleaning cages and rooms, dog walking and fundraising. Children are welcome to volunteer, but must be with a parent or guardian and sign a waiver. (Really young kids? Consider sponsoring an animal in need!)
Hospice of the Bluegrass
In 1978, Hospice of the Bluegrass began with a group of volunteers. In 2010 the organization had over 950 volunteers contribute over 34,000 hours of volunteer service. There is an opportunity for everyone, including kids, at Hospice of the Bluegrass.
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful
Keep Cincinnati Beautiful (KCB) is an award-winning affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Its mission is to educate and encourage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environment. Families can participate in The Great American Cleanup, schools can take part in service learning programs and there are even large mural projects young artists can participate in!
Matthew 25: Ministries
Volunteers play an essential role in the work of Matthew 25: Ministries. Volunteering at Matthew 25 can be a great team-building activity, and is also very family friendly. Children under 16 are welcome and must be accompanied by an adult at all times under the following guidelines: 1 adult/child under 8; 1 adult/2 children 9-11; 1 adult/3 kids 11-16.
Milestones is a nationally accredited non-profit organization whose mission is to improve cognitive, physical and psychological function, as well as nurture the emotional health of members of our community through therapeutic horseback riding activities. Milestones relies on volunteer support to help during lessons, as well as to keep the program up and running. Teens are welcome to volunteer; however, all volunteers must pass a background check and attend training before being admitted into the program.
Ronald McDonald House
Families from throughout Ohio, across the United States, and from around the world come to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center seeking life-saving treatment for their critically ill children. Volunteers play a key role in the program. Motivated high schoolers can apply for the VolunTEEN Program and get to help families in the House on a weekly basis. Families can also put together care packages or craft packs, which is a fun way to get small kids involved!
spca cincinnati is an animal shelter and humane society that continually strives to strengthen the human-animal bond and improve the welfare of animals by fostering the humane care and treatment of all animals. Volunteers get to socialize with the dogs and cats, assist in the mobile adoption unit and help with education programs. Each volunteer must attend an orientation class. Volunteers must be at least 15; until a volunteer is 18, they must be accompanied by a parent/guardian. The parent/guardian is also required to attend an orientation class.
Since 1963, Stepping Stones has been helping people with disabilities find pathways to independence that will improve their lives and enable them to be fully participating members of their communities. Stepping Stones needs volunteers to complete special maintenance projects, assist in programs such as Saturday Kids Club and Weekend Respites and help with other special projects and fund-raising events. The minimum age to volunteer is 13.
Wesley Community Services
Since 1992, the mission of Wesley Community Services has been to deliver essential services that promote the independence of seniors so they may remain in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible. Families can volunteer in the Packing/Distribution Center, which involves folding and filling boxes of non-perishable foods. Kids are welcome and encouraged to create cards to go in them!
So this holiday season, consider giving back to the community by donating your most valuable resource: your time. For more volunteer opportunities in Cincinnati, please visit VolunteerMatch.org.