Volunteer Project: Blackout Boxes
Shed a little light on an elderly person's life!
- Volunteers:You and your kids
- Elderly people:No, kids—Mom and Dad are not considered elderly yet, thank you very much!
- A box:A medium-size cardboard box or plastic bin.
- One index card:For emergency numbers.
- Flashlight and batteries
- Handheld fan and batteries:In case it's "lights out" on a boiling summer day.
- Can of food and can opener
- Blanket:To bundle up if it's cold outside.
- Candle:A tall pillar candle, not a votive.
- Snacks:Non-perishable, packaged items like dried fruit, nuts, cookies.
- A bottle of water:The government recommends keeping one gallon of water per person for emergencies.
- Adhesive label and marker
- Have your kids decide whether they want to make one blackout box for grandma or an elderly neighbor, or if they'd rather make several boxes for residents at an assisted living facility.
- If they decide to go with the second option, contact your local senior center or assisted living facility and tell them that you'd like to donate some emergency preparedness kits to their residents. Explain what will be in the boxes. It's best to speak to the administrator or nursing director to get approval. They can also let you know which residents are in need of supplies. If your kid has the gift of gab, have him make the call.
- Once your kids have settled on the lucky recipient, head out to your local superstore to pick up the supplies. (Bring a shopping list with you so you don't leave the store with a new t-shirt, a jumbo pack of toilet paper and the new US Weekly and forget to buy all the supplies for the project.) Print this page or help your kid copy the list below.
- Don't forget to pick up a medium-size cardboard box or plastic bin. You'll need one per emergency kit. You can get cardboard boxes at your local UPS or packing store.
- Have the kids fill the box with all of the emergency supplies; check them off as they put them into the box.
- Create an emergency contact list form for each box. When your kids deliver the box, encourage the recipient to fill out the form right away. The list should include the following:
Emergency number or 911
Emergency family member contact
Other important phone numbers
Your family's telephone number
Any medications the person is taking
- Help your child label the box, "Emergency Blackout Box." If you know the recipient's name, personalize the label so no one else snags the stuff: "Mrs. Wolff's Blackout Box."
- Take your kids to deliver the blackout boxes. (Make sure to call before you show up!)
- If possible, get the recipient's name and phone number so if there is a blackout, your kids can call and check on him or her.
- Pat yourselves on the back. You and the kid did good today!
- Get more people involved. Have your child encourage friends, neighbors or classmates to make their own emergency kits for the elderly. Your kid can even start a blackout box drive and collect boxes from the whole community. Some senior living facilities have hundreds of residents, so the more boxes the merrier!
- Looking for other activities with senior citizens? Have your kid volunteer at a senior citizens center making greeting cards with residents or as a bingo caller.
- Check out our ages-and-stages family guide to volunteering opportunities.