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School’s out for summer! And inevitably, after those first few lazy days at the pool, at least one of your kids will announce, “I’m bored!”
You can roll your eyes and start handing out chores, or you can suggest that they do something to make the world a better place — like help homeless pets.
There are plenty of things that kids of all ages can do to support shelters and rescues during the summer months (or year-round, for that matter). Here are a few ideas to get your pet-loving kiddos off the couch and out helping the community this summer.
Volunteering can be a valuable experience for any kid; it can teach compassion and commitment. Call your local shelter or rescue to ask if it needs volunteers and if it has an age restriction for helpers. Some shelters have volunteer opportunities specifically geared to kids: Sheila McLalin, volunteer coordinator at the Best Friends Animal Society — Los Angeles,says their youth program is extremely popular during the summer months. After a mandatory training session, children ages 12 and up can volunteer as often as they want throughout the summer, with a minimum commitment of five hours a month. Kids love it — and so do their parents. “Parents like it because it’s good and keeps kids active," McLalin says, "and they do something good for the community.”
She adds that there are a variety of areas where kids can help at their facility: walking dogs, interacting with the pets, helping in the spay and neuter clinic and more.
Volunteering can be a family activity, too. McLalin says that at Best Friends, siblings often volunteer together. It’s also a great way for parents and their kids to bond. McLalin describes one mother and her teenage son who come in every week to walk dogs and help wherever is needed. She says it's clearly something they enjoy doing together.
Raising cash is always an exciting summer project for kids. Encourage your kids to clean out the basement and their rooms and hold a tag sale to raise money for a local shelter. (Bonus: The activity benefits you and the shelter!) Some kids might prefer selling lemonade or baked goods; others might like to hold car washes, which are always popular in the summer months, especially for a good cause.
And don't be afraid to let your kids come up with ideas on their own — you might be surprised how creative they can get. For example, a 12-year-old girl in Chicago sold bracelets and held a tiki party to raise money to buy doggie treadmills for her local shelter.
Most shelters need supplies as well as cash donations. Check out your favorite organization’s website for its donation wish list; you’re likely to find that it needs essentials like towels, blankets, gently used pet supplies, office supplies and more. Your kids can contact neighbors, friends and family and offer to help clean out cupboards, garages and basements to find things the shelter can use.
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