Open thread: Volunteering

Volunteering for Common Threads was a terrific experience for me. I think I got more out of it than the kids. I learned that kids can do a lot in the kitchen, including use knives appropriately, and I learned how to cook some new recipes I probably would not have attempted at home. Do you volunteer? If so where and what do you do?


With respect to the recipes and why I didn’t post them — they aren’t mine so I can’t share them. However, the Common Threads cookbook is available for purchase (I’m not sure what recipes are in it).

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21 thoughts on “Open thread: Volunteering

  1. My volunteering always seems to involve the kids' school. I volunteer in the library once a week helping kids find books and check them out (also reshelving). I spend one day a week in the classroom doing various odds and ends (grading, filing papers and when they were younger, doing arts and crafts with the kids). But my big job is Box Tops. I'm our school's coordinator, so I'm in charge of counting, clipping, bagging and mailing the Box Tops for the entire school! The kids get so excited to compete for my quarterly pizza and ice cream parties for the classes that submit the most. I love being able to hang out with my kids and make a difference at the same time, so I agree with you, Mrs. Q. I probably get more out of it than the kids!!!

  2. I am a Reiki master. I have a private practice in Manhattan and I volunteer at a Cancer Center. Volunteering is incredibly rewarding.

  3. I am a volunteer firefighter and EMT in my very small community. My husband is also a volunteer firefighter and together we share the Presidency of the department (which takes a LOT of time!). Our sons (7 and 9) often help too! I have also helped with sports teams and our small library but had to cut back a little. I am also a 6th grade teacher in the same community and frequently do extras there too.

    I have enjoyed your blog and my school pretty much has the same lunches as yours does. I am going to try harder to pack lunches for my sons and I when school starts.

  4. My husband and I have always been firm believers in volunteering. Many of the extra-curricular groups that our children were involved in would have folded if not for the volunteers. I always get a huge amount of satisfaction from spending time with the children outside of a school setting.

    I love your blog by the way! I look forward to new posts!

  5. My volunteering is here and there. Things I can commit to one day for. The most fun I've had so far was at Habitat for Humanity. That's a blast 🙂 My 11 year old and I are planning to volunteer at a local food pantry soon. They have 2 hour shifts which should be good for her attention span.

  6. My sons and I go to St Vincent de Paul which is a local soup kitchen that helps the working poor. We will do anything from working on the hot food line (only for adults) to filling the glasses with water, to setting the tables, delivering the food to the tables, etc, etc. It is quite the humbling experience and it is my opinion that children need to build up humility and graciousness (as do adults) 🙂

  7. I volunteer at my children's schools, an assistance ministry and also at our local public library. My 9 year old began volunteering this summer at the public library as well. She enjoys the experience and it gives her a sense of community. She has so much fun that my 6 year old wants to join us as well! The librarian said he could help anytime (I just have to be there with him). You are never too young to help your community!

  8. I used to volumteer every week at my church's soup kitchen. It was a small operation where we would feed about 20-30 homeless in our area in Northern Manhattan. After I had the kids I haven't been going, but I plan on getting re involved when they are old enough to help out.

    I loved volunteering, but not for the reasons I initially thought. I started going because I thought I could do something good for my community and I wanted that great feeling you get from doing something selfless for others. And all that did happen, but I also made friends at my church, became an ACTIVE member of my community and in a surprise twist got to know all the normally faceless invisible homeless men in my neighborhood. You know, I never felt safer?

    I am looking forward to the time when I can bring my kids and have them learn the valueable lessons volunteering can bring.

  9. When the kids were in school I volunteered there all the time. I was a math tutor, library helper, book fair coordinator, in school reward store buyer…the most rewarding of those was the tutoring. The one on one and knowing you made a difference. The light in a childs eyes when they understood.
    I also spin and weave. I used to do a program with the local grade school and a few preschools where I would come in and show the children where their clothing comes from. Cotton and wool. I would demonstrate spinning and weaving.

    Lessons would be age appropriate and the teachers would further the lesson with an art project or for the older students a history lesson or even a science lesson. In the grade school I've done this for both the art teacher and for the Social Studies teachers.

    For the younger kids in preschool, the teacher or I read them a book. I show them pictures and wool and cotton and hand knit and woven clothing. We talk about what they are wearing. I spin and talk. They ask questions, not always about the lesson. They get to have a bit of wool and yarn to take home, and to treadle the spinning wheel. The usually get a color sheet about sheep getting a hair cut. It is fun. The kids and teachers enjoy it. I still do the preschool "show" a few times a year. For any of the teachers that want me to at the preschool where I teach, on my days off.

    I feel like teaching them about where their clothes come from is a little like teaching them about where food comes from. Most would say the store. I just take them a little deeper into the story.

  10. I love volunteering – I like it more than working to tell the truth. For fifteen years I have assessed 'Duke of Edinburgh's Award'expeditions. That seems to have come to an end now but, in place of that, I fire steam locomotives instead.
    Kids are amazing… they almost always have a far more intuitive understanding of a locomotive than their parents!

  11. My volunteering is tied to my kids' activities at the moment because I just don't have time to do something else. I teach a class for our midweek classes at church and I do a lot of work with our parents' organization for the kids' swim team.

  12. Last summer, some coworkers and I volunteered at a soup kitchen in a blighted urban area near our office. We helped serve lunch. We were responsible for plating meals in the kitchen, running the plates to a counter in the dining hall, serving plated food to clients, keeping dining tables set with napkins, cups, and flatware, and refilling pitchers of Kool-Aid on each table. It was hot, tiring work.

    The facility serves lunch only and operates Mon. thru Fri. It was founded by two retired nuns (retired from the Church, that is) who continue to oversee its operation. One of the sisters came into the dining room during service and mingled with the clients. We (the volunteers) also got to chat a little with some of the clients. We asked them how they got their other meals. They told us that there were lots of places in the area, mostly churches, that operated during other meal times and on weekends. They told us most places just handed out boxed meals instead of hot meals served in a dining hall.

    The kitchen is run by a trained chef. Many of the kitchen workers were performing court-ordered community service, some were paid workers, and a few were full-time volunteers. Many stay-at-home moms volunteer at the facility during the school year but those volunteers have to care for their children during summer. That's where we came in. We filled in for those moms.

    It was an interesting experience, a real eye-opener to say the least. It was uplifting to see the facility in operation. They emphasized to us their mission of serving a simple hot meal to their clients in a way that respects and preserves their clients' dignity. On the other hand, it was troubling to see the extent of the need for this type of ministry. I felt emotionally drained on the drive back to the office.

  13. I am a Big Sister to an 8 year old boy and have been for 3 years. Originally it started out as an In School program but after 2 years I wanted to see him year round. It just so happened that the In School program was being discontinued by BB/BS (later picked up by our local chamber of commerce!), so we began to see each other after school and during the summer.
    Being very "scheduled" we see each other every Wednesday. I pick him up after school and we hang out for a couple of hours. During the summer I pick him up at 1pm and we swim or go to the movies. This summer we went to 6 Flags and NYC to the Central Park Zoo. Hopefully we will get one more trip in.

  14. I volunteer with different groups trying to get young girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines whenever the opportunity arises. It's amazing to see these girls light up when they make "discoveries" in science and have a real life role model telling them they can do this for a living.

    I am also trying to get involved in running for charity – I don't know if that is technically volunteering, but I'd love to raise money for Heifer's International or some microfinance group that focuses on women. I might be able to do a marathon again in the spring.

  15. I volunteer at a hospice and I am in charge of their scrapbooking program. We make scrapbooks for patients that have a difficult time communicating or remembering. It is a visual way for them to express themselves and reminds them of events in their lives. The hospice I volunteer at is also starting a cooking program. Volunteers will come into the house of a patient and make them a nice home-cooked meal. Hospitals and homecare don't always have the best food options (think jello); so it is a wonderful treat to have someone cook for you. The aromas in the house may also help with memories as scent memories are some of the strongest.

  16. Wow, all these great volunteers!! I do something a *litte* out of the ordinary and put my professional skills to work as a volunteer Tax Preparer with a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program/Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE). We help get the most refunds for the working families of our neighborhood and help them file often very complicated tax returns.

    Most of the time, the taxpayers are extremely thankful that we offer this free service, because otherwise, they'd have to pay several hundred for a paid preparer to file it. And a lot pray victim to rapid refund loans where they end up getting fleeced. So sad.

  17. I coordinate Saturday volunteers for a food bank/clothing room. It's only 2 hours once a month for the volunteers and everyone really enjoys the work. I've been doing it for quite a few years and love knowing I am supporting my community.

  18. Thanks to everyone for sharing their volunteer stories. Volunteering at Common Threads was the first time I have volunteered in a long time and I definitely want to do more now.

  19. I volunteer at a local animal shelter in my area. I have to get up an hour earlier than usual and stay at my regular job an hour later than usual to make up for the time I spend at the shelter, but it is worth it! I love it!

  20. I volunteer at a Day Care Center, and I absolutely love working with kids! When you're sad, it's amazing how the warm weight of a child cuddled in your arms negates the heartache for a short while. And when the kids start loving and trusting you, it just feels so goood. =)

  21. I'm probably the uber-volunteer. My role as president of Purple Asparagus in the last year has taken between 40-60 hours a week. Hopefully, in the coming year, given the demand for our services, we'll be able to increase our funding through our fundraiser, Corks & Crayons, on August 29, and through foundation grants.

    Also, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with us as well. We provided over 120 hours of free educational programming in the 2009-2010 school year to about 5000 parents and kids. Not having a celebrity leader puts us at a bit of a disadvantage in fundraising and PR, but we sure hope that we can find the funds to continue our expansion in the coming year.

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