The Value of Volunteering
Our family is really into volunteering. We do it because we think it's the right thing to do, but now I know it's also a way to grow strong, smart kids.
For many years, I have helped to coordinate a charity program that provides toys and clothes to needy children at Christmastime. When I married my husband, I let my new family know that when they got me, they also got the charity program.
I was amazed to see my new stepdaughter dive right in. Sarah is a typical 15-year-old, very interested in herself and her friends and her fun and not much else. But there she was, helping with the program as much as she could, even with the dirty grunt work like packing and hauling and cleaning up.
Here's what I realized though: At first, she would only do it if she knew people would be there to see her do it, or if she got credit for school. I wanted to try to focus her in the direction of doing it for the love of it, something that my own family always instilled in me that I wanted to instill in her, too. So I made sure that she was with me when some people dropped off toys, or when people were picking up packages. She got to hear about how much good she did outside of the "glitz and glamour" of the publicity she loves. And she appreciated it, and realized that there was more to it than just accolades. Now she does it without asking, and without asking for credit—most of the time.
Volunteering isn't just a nice thing to do, it builds character, too.