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It’s important for kids and families to find a way to carve out an hour to volunteer and donate time in some way—even if it’s from home—because it’ll benefit everyone. Participating in volunteer activities at a young age not only sets a good example for kids but also teaches them life skills they can carry through the rest of their lives.

Tap into their creativity.

If they love to draw and create pictures, then Color A Smile will put their artwork to good use. Completed drawings are sent to troops overseas and senior citizen homes.

Grace Healthcare Services asks young people (of all ages) to make holiday cards, packages, posters and any other arts and crafts for patients who are terminally ill.

Kids, teens and adults have the chance to work together at the Bergen Volunteer Center with volunteer opportunities ranging from arts and crafts to helping out senior citizens with everyday tasks.

Opportunities to volunteer and help out are endless at Bergen Family Promise in Ridgewood. They encourage kids to come up with their own fundraising ideas or start their own donation drives and help give them the tools to do it.

Without leaving the house…

If you’ve been inspired by Marie Kondo, give those old items a new home. Challenge the kids to collect as many old toys or toiletries as they can. These items can be sent to places like Bridges Outreach in Summit or Second Chance Toys—there’s plenty of drop-off locations in NJ.

Designate one day as a pantry clean out day, and as a family, go through your canned goods and choose which to donate. Sort ’em, box ’em and send ’em to the Community Food Bank in Hillsdale and Egg Harbor Twp., or the Isaiah House in East Orange. Some churches and synagogues also accept donations. For the Community Food Bank, the minimum age to volunteer onsite is 12, accompanied with an adult, but on Family Days ages six to 11 can help out too.

At Alex’s Lemonade Stand, kids can help other kids by having their own lemonade stand at home. Kids can collect spare change, make bracelets and even have an Alex’s Lemonade Stand birthday party. All the money raised goes toward childhood cancer research.

Eva’s Village helps people in need by serving at their community kitchen. You and the kids can do a scavenger hunt in the house and try to find the food and toiletry items Eva’s Village requests. Onsite volunteers must be 15, but donations are always welcome.

Put the kids to work.

Places like SHIP of Summit always need a few extra hands to help with bagging breakfasts and lunches. Elijah’s Promise in New Brunswick will begin welcoming in-person volunteers again in Winter 2022. Kids must be 12 to volunteer at Elijah’s Promise, but anyone can help bag breakfasts and lunches at home and then drop them off at the specific drop-off locations.

Jersey Cares in Livingston and the Volunteer Center of Burlington in Mount Laurel have directories and calendars where they post a bunch of volunteer opportunities of varying interests. Some opportunities include donation drives, care for animals, recreation and arts.

The Community Soup Kitchen in Morristown is not able to take on in-person volunteers just yet due to COVID but there are other ways you can help, from donating non-perishable food items to helping to create a Purple Apron Meal Kit for those in need.

Lend a helping paw.

If you and your family are animal lovers, then St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center is a great volunteering option. Help with fundraisers, collecting items for animals or create your own projects for raising awareness. You must be 18 to work with the animals, but there are tons of other opportunities to volunteer.

Going, going, green…

New Jersey Tree Foundation is making NJ greener by planting trees across the Garden state. So rally up your crew (and green thumb!) and get ready to dig holes and plant trees around communities. You can even plant a tree in honor of a loved one.

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