Family vacations are a time to reconnect, relax and enjoy a shift from the normal routine. They also are a great time to reinforce values, like being open to new experiences and caring for people in need. Why not add to the fun by giving back, together?
With nearly 1,800 United Ways throughout the world, wherever you go on vacation, odds are good there is a United Way nearby and can connect your family to local volunteer opportunities. United Way projects might include making literacy kits, assembling school supply backpacks or nonperishable meals, and reading with children.
Looking for less structure and more spontaneity? Once you’ve read them, donate vacation books and magazines to your vacation spot’s youth organization, library or nursing home. Write encouraging notes on postcards to service members. Collect unopened hotel toiletries and assemble hygiene kits once you’re home to donate to a nearby shelter. Bring paper placemats and lunch bags and coloring supplies so kids can decorate them for meal deliveries; donate them together at your destination or once you’re home.
If you are heading to Florida, Give Kids the World Village provides theme park vacations for kids with life-threatening illnesses. Volunteers ages 12 and older can help by scooping ice cream, greeting a family at the airport or assisting kids with enjoying the rides. Traveling outside the U.S.? Pack for a Purpose offers vacationers the chance to donate designated items that can be used by local schools, clinics or orphanages. Give a Day Global connects travelers with vetted nonprofits in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
Just like a vacation, volunteering is a way for families to spend quality time together, expand their horizons, foster positive communication and strengthen bonds among family members, among other benefits. With your time off and away, you can jumpstart a family tradition by making time for volunteering.