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Family Volunteering: Teaching Kids To Give Back To Society

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Charity begins at home and so does the habit of volunteering. Children learn the importance of giving back to society from their families. Here’s how to adopt a more committed approach to volunteering as a family.

As a social impact consultant, I’m often invited by NGOs to their volunteer activities so I can get a better understanding of their mission and beneficiaries. I suppose it’s not too dissimilar to being an influencer, but instead of free cocktails and opening night shows, I get to bathe abandoned dogs and pack lunch boxes for those in need. If there is space, I often invite my friends or bring my children to volunteer. We invariably have a fun, fulfilling, and eye-opening experience. I’ll pass on the free cocktails and take the dogs and lunch boxes any day!

Read More: How A Love For Animals Helped A Vet Make Human Connections

“Where can I volunteer with my kids?”

where to volunteer in hong kong with kids

After an enriching day of volunteering themselves or after vicariously enjoying my social media posts, I’m often asked by friends where they can volunteer with their kids. To this, I often respond, “Where do YOU volunteer?” More often than not, I find that parents themselves have not invested time or effort in any charitable organisations, and yet they want their kids to go “do some good”. I’ve even known parents who dropped off their children at opportunities which were clearly marked parent-child experiences.

Values, like viruses, are contagious. They are caught and not taught. This is not meant to be an admonition, but a reminder that volunteering is not a baby-sitting service or a chance for your child to beef up their CV. Rather, it is a valuable opportunity to grow their sense of compassion and social responsibility. Studies have shown that volunteering even has benefits of boosting self-esteem and decreasing the risk of depression in adulthood. And if you want these benefits for your children, perhaps make volunteering a family habit?

Allow me to tell you about a recent volunteering opportunity and what I gained from it…

Read More: Where To Donate In Hong Kong – Clothes, Books, Toys, Furniture Donation And More

Spotlight: Volunteering For Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong

volunteering for habitat for humanity hong kong

Now, if you are looking for volunteer work that requires Herculean strength, I highly suggest the recent service activity I did with Habitat for Humanity Hong Kong. Despite all my volunteering experience thus far, I was not prepared for the exhausting yet exhilarating task, replete with gear including goggles, face mask, gloves (and straddling a ladder for hours!). Our mission, and we chose to accept it, was to scrape, prime, and paint a home in an estate building in Kowloon belonging to Mrs Chan. As soon as we arrived and looked up at her ceiling, we knew why we were there. Vast areas of paint had chipped off, and dried plaster was peeled back exposing the grey concrete underneath. Areas that were still intact had mould growing on it.

Along with two licensed contractors, eight of us volunteers got to work. My initial scraping was executed in a steady metronome beat and had momentum. But within half an hour, the beat had dwindled and my arms worked like a pair of reluctant windshield wipers.

I took rest breaks so long my friend joked that mould was going to grow back by the time I was ready to work again. After we finished scraping, we applied primer to the ceiling, and completed the work by painting three layers of white paint.

Mrs. Chan sat on a small stool outside her front door watching us the entire day. During breaks, I chatted to her. She shared much of her story. Though it had more than its fair share of unfortunate events, she concluded that our work that day made her realise there are still “good people” in the world. That statement was worth every ache and strained muscle!

family volunteering opportunities in hong kong habitat for humaity

This is the type of impact that Habitat Hong Kong is making: restoring hope and homes to one family at a time. Habitat Hong Kong’s vision is that everyone would have a decent place to live, and their mission is to renovate and deep clean spaces for individuals on social welfare and low-income elderly. Email [email protected] if you are interested to get involved. The minimum age is 6 years old for Project SchoolWorks; while the minimum age is 15 years old for Project HomeWorks, so you can get your kids involved.

PS: Habitat Hong Kong is celebrating their 20th year of serving Hong Kong with an auction and anniversary party at The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel on Thursday, 6 June 2024. Book your tickets now if you’d like to learn more about them.

Read More: What Happened When A Mama Moved Her Family To The Chungking Mansions To Live Off $280 A Day?

Family & Kids Volunteering: Opportunities Abound

Family volunteering opportunities in Hong Kong

Wondering where to start volunteering in Hong Kong? Now should you be ready to volunteer together with your family, the go-to comprehensive directory of volunteer activities in our city is HandsOn Hong Kong. The HandsOn team runs 200 activities each month and all the options are clearly marked in their calendar. I’ve found this calendar to be an invaluable resource as it has opportunities available for individuals, families, and corporations looking to roll up their sleeves. Sassy Mama often highlights the family volunteering opportunities in Hong Kong, so keep an eye out for what’s suitable for you and your kids (depending on age cutoffs).

ImpactHK serves the homeless in our city’s poorest neighbourhoods, by engaging volunteers on a 2 to 3-hour Kindness Walk while handing out necessities to street sleepers, street cleaners and low-income elderly. The minimum suggested age is 5 years old.

Feeding Hong Kong is a food redistribution service and facility, bringing food from where it is plenty to where it is needed. Volunteers are needed to collect bread and pastries on the Bread Run (no minimum age). Then the Warehouse Assistant sorts the collected foods in the warehouse (minimum age 16 years).

Food Angel is another food-related organisation that’s involved in the preparation and distribution of food directly to their beneficiaries. Due to hygiene and safety concerts, the minimum age is 16 years old to serve as a volunteer. Opportunities can include Veggie Preparation, Mealbox Packing, and Serving Meals.

Read More: Food Waste in Hong Kong – What We Can Do About It

RUN Hong Kong supports vulnerable refugees, especially women, to build resilience and nurture self-reliance through sports and education. Volunteer positions include assisting in adult sports activities, assisting the children’s homework club, babysitting for children whose parents are doing sport, etc. General minimum age is 15 years to volunteer.

family volunterering run hong kong

Another event for you to mark in your diaries – The second RUN Fashion Show will take place on Wednesday, 12 June 2024 at Central Market, 93 Queen’s Road Central to commemorate World Refugee Day. The event begins at 6:30pm, so it’s probably best to go kid-free or with your older children. Last year’s event was a big success and your teens will enjoy it! Buy tickets here!

Read More: Where To Volunteer In Hong Kong – 20 NGOs And Charity Organisations

Long-Term Volunteering: Volunteerism vs. Volun-tourism

family charity and volunteering jennifer wannenmacher

About ten years ago, our family designated a certain NGO as our “family charity”. We initially selected this organisation because we cared about the social cause and my husband and I were friends with the CEO. But over time, as we got to know the NGO staff, assessed the impact, and – yes! – volunteered with them on numerous occasions, we realised that we could be most useful to the charity by our commitment. Besides volunteering, we would fundraise, advocate, and invite friends to the NGO’s activities. It was a mutually beneficial relationship: the charity had our commitment, and our family learned so much by serving the NGO and their beneficiaries.

Charities value committed, long-term relationships.

Too often, our approach to volunteerism is more like volun-tourism. Instead of a consistent approach, volunteers dip in and out, and organisations find that a volunteer is less help and more hassle.

From my experience, you and your family will reap the rewards of making an impact by engaging one or two charities more deeply and thoughtfully. Find a cause that appeals to all of you, research the organisations in the space and then understand how you can work with them. Assign the kids age-appropriate tasks while the parents help with finances, fund-raising, accounting and more. Over the years, as your children grow up, you are likely to find that they have gained so much more than what you have given!

Read More: Raising Resilient Hong Kong Kids By Teaching Them Happiness

Editor’s Note: The author originally published this article in July 2020. It has been updated since and published in June 2024.

Main image courtesy of Ron Lach via Pexels, image 1 courtesy of Mikhail Nilov via Pexels, images 2, 3 and 6 courtesy of Jennifer Wannenmacher, image 4 courtesy of Joel Muniz via Unsplash, image 5 courtesy of RUN Hong Kong.

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