This week’s Saturday Sidebar Question comes from World Moms Blog writer Kyla P’an.  She asked our writers,

“How do you expose your kids to, or educate them about, serving others and volunteerism?”

Check out what some of our World Moms had to say…

Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA writes:
“I think the best way is to lead by example and bring the kids along so they can understand better. They can join in and you will have great opportunities for conversations about helping others with them.

For example, I recently threw a party for the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign at my house. We raised awareness for vaccinations to save the lives of children in developing nations, and we also collected school supplies for a local charity, too.

I let my daughter stay up a little later that night, and she helped collect the school supplies at the door. I took her with me later that week to drop off the items, so she could see where they were going. She had a lot of questions!”

KristenKolb of Switzerland writes:
“This has actually been a hot topic for us in our house lately. Living in Switzerland has really challenged my ability to find ways to show my kids about helping others. There is very little visible need here….no orphans, minimal poverty, very little unemployment and in general a very private society which means needs are not always visible.

Obviously it is great that there is little need, however I feel very strongly that I want my kids to learn what it means to share what we have and serve others sacrificially with our time and energy. So for now we mostly make meals for sick families or new moms. When we clean out our toys every few months we try to think of someone in need. It isn’t much but it is something tangible. In the future when we live somewhere where the needs are more obvious I want to get my kids out there more and really see need and see the need to impact others.”

Mamma Simona of South Africa writes:
“As with everything else, “children do what you do and not what you say”! I totally agree with Jen – lead by example!

In a way, I’m probably lucky to live in South Africa because there are so many deserving charities here. The public schools also make it easy for us because they are constantly either fundraising or collecting goods for the underprivileged. A couple of my favourite things to do are to donate clothes, toys etc. at least twice a year (I usually “Spring Clean” before Easter and before Christmas) and also to “adopt” a child via the “Shoebox” charity (you get to pick a kid and pack a shoebox from a list of items – usually toiletries, clothes, a small toy and something sweet.) You wrap and label each shoebox and they then get distributed during a Christmas party held at the orphanage.

My daughter (nearly 16 years old) regularly helps out at a neighbourhood soup kitchen run by our church. At school she does first aid, peer support (basically acts as go-between when others have a problem and are too shy/ashamed to speak to the guidance counselor on their own) and also takes part in activities organized by Interact (the school branch of Rotary International).

All our pets (2 cats and 2 dogs) are rescued animals – we literally got them off the street! Just nursing them back to health and giving them a good home was also a valuable learning opportunity for the kids. Sometimes charity starts at home! No matter how bad you think you have it, there are always others in a worse situation. Finding ways to help is easy once you really open your eyes to what is going on around you.

May God bless everyone who is making a difference in their own way!”

Dee Harlow of Virginia, USA writes:
“Definitely ‘lead by example’ is our motto, although our kids won’t be able to avoid the topic of volunteerism and being of service in our household.

My husband and I met while volunteering with the U.S. Peace Corps and their cousins’ parents were both Peace Corps volunteers as well. Their grandfather served in WWII and had volunteered with the U.S. Civil Service during the Vietnam War. Not only is our family history about being of service but our current life in the U.S. Foreign Service will teach our children about sacrifices we make to serve our country, as well as expose them to different living conditions around the world.”

Kyla P’an of Massachusetts, USA writes:
“I posed this question because our kids are “coming of age,” (if 3 and 6 can be considered “of age”) to be involved with and understand more the gifts we give unto others.

Recently, my 6yo and I spent an evening and night at our church with four families “in transition,” meaning they’ve come upon hard times and have lost their homes or jobs or ability to maintain their “American lifestyle.” Since there were 8 kids among the four families, it was moving and tough to accept that only a fine thread separated our circumstances. I think through our service to and involvement within our church community, our kids are beginning to grasp a sense of place and purpose in the world. As they grow and mature, we will continue to involve them in ways that shows them that not everyone has as much as they do and there are also many who have more. We can work towards greater equality but it is far from being achieved.”

Susie Newday of Israel writes:
“I think that the best way to educate our kids is to set a good example. Our kids learn much more from our actions than what we say.

The more active we are in our communities the more they learn.

Also, even if at times it may clash a bit with the value of modesty, it is smart to tell your kids frequently, especially the young ones, about the things you do that they may not be aware of, like tithing for instance. That affords a good opportunity to explain to them why you do it.

The earlier kids are exposed, the more natural it is for them.”

What do you think?  Do you have examples of how you have gotten your child(ren) involved in volunteering?  

And do you have a question you would like to pose to our WMB writers?  If so, email us at to see what they have to say.

Don’t forget to visit us tomorrow to check out the travel itinerary for next week!

– World Moms Blog

Photo credit to Chuck Lafferty of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region  This photo has a creative commons attribute license.

World Moms Blog

World Moms Blog is an award winning website which writes from over 30 countries on the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Over 70 international contributors share their stories from around the globe, bonded by the common thread of motherhood and wanting a better world for their children. World Moms Blog was listed by Forbes Woman as one of the "Best 100 Websites for Women 2012 & 2013" and also called a "must read" by the NY Times Motherlode in 2013. Our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan, was awarded the BlogHer International Activist Award in 2013.

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