As I get older, I find myself thinking a lot more about my community. I own a home now and have a toddler daughter; I pay more attention to what goes on in my neighbourhood, in my town.
I wish it wasn’t true, but I never gave a lot of thought to giving back to my community until I had my daughter. Being on maternity leave can be very isolating, so I turned to community programs like our local library, swimming pools, and even mom-and-tot events. I began to see all of the services offered in my community; not just the ones that I used, but the many things my community offered, free of charge, to its members.
Now that my daughter is old enough to understand a little more about the world around her, I started thinking about ways that we can, as a family, give back to our community. There are not a lot of things a 3-year old can do on her own of course, but there are so many things we can do with her to help her grasp the feelings of community and helping others.
When we started looking for things we could do as a family, it was not as easy as we thought it would be. After a few fruitless searches and a few phone calls, we hit on a few things that would be perfect: we could brighten someone’s day, help out a local women’s shelter, and also help out a shelter of the four-legged variety.
I will tell you right now: we are immensely excited about our choices.
Our local Humane Society
There are so many things our daughter can get involved with us in support of our local Humane Society. Not a single visit to the mall doesn’t involve a visit to the pet store, so she was overjoyed when we went this past weekend and actually shopped for dogs and cats! We picked up food, toys, blankets, and treats. We were told that we could apply to volunteer for “canine enrichment”, which involves walking shelter dogs around the neighbourhood, so we did–my daughter asks daily when we are going to walk the dogs!
I have a soft spot for seniors, I always have. I have always tried to advocate for the rights of the elderly in my family and my extended family, and visiting seniors with my daughter was a no-brainer. It’s been proven that having children around can enrich the days of a senior citizen immensely, and though we are unable to take them anywhere for a walk (insurance reasons) we have been told that we are welcome to come for craft times and meals; I am unsure about mealtime (because toddler!) but we will definitely be going for arts and crafts!
The local Women’s Shelter
While this choice is a little more serious due to the nature of why women are in shelters in the first place, there are also children in these shelters who were, too often, taken from their homes in the middle of the night with little but the clothes on their backs. We have to go through some background checks and such, but we are excited to be able to help a family through what could be the most difficult thing they have ever done. Also, toy shopping?? Who doesn’t love doing that??
These are three great ways we can involve our daughter and teach her the value of giving; of your time, your laughter, and yes, sometimes your wallet. There are ways to give without ever opening your wallet; that should never stand in anyone’s way. Your time is as valuable as any commodity anyone could ever give.
We are excited as a family to start giving back to the members of our community, both two- and four-legged!