5 Ways to Give Back with Baby in Tow

thanksgiving volunteering
Image via Flickr/ Direct Relief

For many families, giving back to the community is an important part of the holiday season. When you have a baby or toddler in tow, though, it can be difficult to engage with volunteer opportunities that require you to be at a specific place, at a specific time, doing a specific task. When the time, place, or task isn’t compatible with bringing along a baby (it’s tough to serve meals at the soup kitchen with an active toddler along for the ride!) and getting child care just isn’t feasible, your inability to volunteer may feel disheartening. Though you may not be as hands-on as you'd like to be this year, there are still plenty of ways you can give back to your community in a way that works with your current family needs! Check out the list below for ideas.

1. Shop for a child in need

One of the easiest ways to give back during the holidays is to shop for a child or a family in need. If you have the means, consider looking into what local organizations collect toys, clothing, or gifts and distribute them to families during the holidays. You’ll probably see a display outlining what you can do at your local mall but, if not, consider reaching out to a few non-profits and asking what their clients might be in need of this year. 

2. Hold an item drive 

If you want to help more than just one individual or family, consider organizing an item drive. Your child’s school, your church, or your local community organization may be excited to co-host with you and to offer their members a way to give back. Pick a local non-profit, find out what they need, and set out organizing. Put up flyers and notices and a collection box or bin and be ready to publicize the event using whatever means the organization you partner with uses to get the word out about other events and activities. Generally, drives that ask participants to bring things they may already have at home, such as canned food, gently used coats, gloves, or hats, or good-condition children’s books are the most successful! 

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3. Use your skills

If you don’t have money to spare or feel able to organize an item drive, think about the skills you DO have and use those. Are you a fabulous knitter? Consider knitting blankets for babies at the local hospital. Are you skilled at website design? Reach out and offer your services for free to a non-profit that could benefit. Are you a great writer or artist? Consider donating your talent to an organization that needs someone to design promotional materials. Think about whatever you’re already good at and look for ways you can use your skills to give back!

4. Spread holiday cheer through baked goods

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Everyone (even those who couldn’t follow a recipe if their life depended on it) can bake cookies from store-bought dough. This year, consider baking some sweet treats and delivering them to people in the community who might enjoy them. The elderly neighbor who doesn’t get a lot of visitors would surely appreciate you stopping by as would any local emergency responders, staff at a local hospital or nursing home, or the teachers at your little one's daycare or preschool. 

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5. Get your kiddo in on the fun

Just because your old favorite ways to volunteer aren’t possible with your little one doesn’t mean that you're out of options. Call around to local organization to see what family volunteer opportunities exist and, when you find something that might work for your family, get your kiddo in on the fun and joy of giving back!

How do you give back during the holidays?

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5 Ways to Give Back with Baby in Tow

Julia Pelly has a master's degree in public health and works full time in the field of positive youth development. Julia loves hiking after work, swimming during the summer and taking long, cuddly afternoon naps with her two sons on the weekends. Julia lives in North Carolina, with her husband and two young boys. You can find more of her work at JuliaPelly.com ... More

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