Teach Your Children the Benefits of Giving Back

The holiday season offers numerous volunteer opportunities available for parents to teach their children about the benefits of giving back, and is the perfect time for families to help those in need.


Children “can coordinate a food drive at their school, canvas their neighborhoods asking their friends and family for donations, or collect food items at a local grocery store and deliver them to the foodbank,” suggests Donna Tighe, community relations manager for the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank in Hampton.

Opportunities at the foodbank warehouse include sorting donations, restocking food shelves and packing bags of food for distribution.“There is a joy that comes from volunteering, that feeling you get when you do something for someone else because you can,” Tighe says.


Family who attend church can offer to fold bulletins, check candles for special holiday services, straighten up and usher during events. Tara Wolf, who oversees the youth & family ministries at King of Glory Lutheran Church & School in Williamsburg, explains the importance of volunteering as a family: “This stresses the commitment to a family unit to be ‘for’ each other while still using their blessings, talents and skills to do good for their neighbor, community and world.”


“At a time of year that kids typically think a lot about what they are going to get, charitable giving is a good way to instill the value of giving in kids at an early age. They can be part of the decision-making, and can give from their own piggy banks if they choose, or from the family’s budget; any size donation is meaningful. Some families have a tradition of having the children help with choosing a particular charity or charities during the holidays. We can certainly help with that,” says Ginny Gasink, development and communications officer for Williamsburg Community Foundation in Williamsburg.

Network Peninsula in Newport News connects families with volunteer opportunities. Giving back to their communities has several benefits for families, according to Karen P. Dutro, executive director of Network Peninsula.  “It is an important milestone when children see firsthand how even the smallest gesture can make a difference to someone in need. It’s also a chance to disconnect from technology, meet new people, and work together with others you may not have met otherwise.”

About the author

Brandy Centolanza

Brandy Centolanza is a freelance writer who has contributed regularly to The Health Journal since 2005. She covers health, travel, parenting, education and community issues for several publications in Hampton Roads and Richmond. Brandy lives in James City County with her husband, two children and two cats.