Volunteering As A Family: Who Truly Receives

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It was spontaneous decision to respond to a friend’s request to help out at a charity funfair. The boys were 4 and 6, so we needed to do something easy. We decided as a family to sell drinks. To run the stall, we needed to buy the drinks beforehand and sell them at the fair.

It was difficult to involve the kids in the early stages so my husband, my mum and I had to figure them out together.

We had a few things we had to settle:

  1. What drinks to sell?
  • Canned and packet drinks
  • Homemade drinks from cordial and premixes
  • Brewed herbal drinks from our family business

With the kids in mind, we went with the hassle-free route of canned drinks.

  1. Preparing for the big day
  • Sourced for the best deal from a company who gave us a good discount because it was for charity
  • Arranged for delivery

We still kept the boys informed about the entire process so they could feel involved.

  1. Preparing the boys
  • What they could expect, why we were doing the funfair out of our own pocket and who the beneficiaries were
  • What they needed to do for set-up, during the funfair and closing up

When the day came, the boys were raring to go. They helped display the canned drinks, opened up the cartons to chill the cans in large basins of ice and stepped up to do the selling. It was a sight to behold – the way they used the loudhailers to call out to “customers”,  walked the grounds to bring customers to the stall and basically did whatever was needed.

We sold out within hours and that was when they got to have their go at the games stalls and buy souvenirs with the coupons we bought. We were pleased the boys stuck to their assigned tasks and made sure we were done before heading off to play.

At the end of the day, the boys stepped out of their comfort zones and felt empowered to do something to help the less fortunate. They realised that it did not take much to help, and that they can contribute actively to society too. The experience was not lost on them.

The next time an opportunity for us to volunteer as a family came up, they readily agreed. This time it was to help deliver Christmas gift packs to the underprivileged community. This proved a little bit of a challenge for them as the homes we visited were different from what they were used to seeing.

Some of the older flats with elderly folk who were unwell made them feel a little unsettled – we could see the apprehension in their faces, and the fear when some slammed the doors on us or simply refused to open the doors. It was a good opportunity for us to explain to them the difficult circumstances that these individuals have had to deal with and why they might have reacted the way they did. It was an eye-opening and learning experience for them.

  1. Empathy – they understood how difficult the circumstances were for some people
  2. Resilience – they saw how these individuals continued to make do with the little they had and how some of them were still cheerful and contented in spite of their challenges
  3. Gratitude – they realised how much they have and to be thankful for it. They also witnessed how many of the recipients were grateful for the gift packs
  4. Service & Responsibility – we reminded them that the more they are have, the more they must learn to give, help and serve

We now volunteer at least once a year and have roped in various groups of friends and cousins to join us whenever possible.

In all honesty, we are the true recipients each time we give of our time to volunteer together. We gain invaluable insights from each experience and it is a great time to bond.

This is a family tradition that I intend to keep. It keeps the kids humble, reminds us to be thankful for what we have and shows us it doesn’t take much to help those who have it harder in life.

All it takes is a willing heart.

Donna is the current Parenting Strategist at Focus on The Family. With a strong background in Sociology, Journalism and Public Relations, she produces content that engages, encourages and informs. When not writing or parenting, Donna also finds satisfaction in learning about, and helping children with learning difficulties cope better in school. 

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