Sunday, May 28, 2017

Volunteer in the Community

Seven Ways to Volunteer with Your Family this Summer

With homework, team sports and school plays on hold, summer vacation is a great time to add volunteering to the calendar if it isn’t there already. There is no shortage of good causes to support, and there are plenty of kid-friendly opportunities to give back to the Austin community. Here are just a handful of worthy organizations that will help you spend some quality time with your kids while they learn the value of public service.

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Little Helping Hands: It can be tricky to find volunteer opportunities for very young kids, so if your little ones are younger than 10, definitely get to know this organization that connects families with a wide range of volunteer opportunities through an online calendar. Though they offer activities for kids as young as three, the group is expanding their scope and has added leadership programs for kids up to age 17. Be aware that Little Helping Hands has far more
volunteers than available spots, so you have to sign up quickly when the monthly calendar is released.

City of Austin: If helping to keep Austin’s water supply safe or our parks clean sounds like a worthwhile project for your family, sign up for one of the city’s many volunteer opportunities. All volunteering is handled through, and they make it pretty simple to click on an opportunity and determine if the age requirements and tasks are a good fit for your family.

Central Texas Food Bank: Though volunteers (eight years and older) are needed year-round, the food bank says, “Volunteers are most needed during our busy summer months when children do not have access to free and reduced-price school lunches and cooling costs rise.” Sign up ahead of time online to sort food or help with the mobile food pantry.

Pioneer Farms: For kids age 10 and up who are interested in Texas history and working with the public, volunteering at Pioneer Farms will be a unique and rewarding opportunity.

Urban Roots: Families with kids 10 and older can volunteer at this East Austin farm/youth leadership organization almost any Tuesday or Thursday morning from 8:30-10:30. Be prepared to get dirty, work hard and have fun. Groups larger than five people need to RSVP to

Umlauf Sculpture Garden: Once a month, volunteers help clean up the Umlauf grounds. This is a good opportunity for large groups, but you’ll need to check in with the volunteer coordinator to arrange your visit (

BookSpring: If your summer calendar is as packed as the school year one, consider doing a book drive for this organization that works to improve literacy in our area by providing reading experiences and books to kids and their families.

About the author: Jill Coody Smits is the author of Expedition Austin: A Kid’s Guide to the Weirdest Town in Texas. A freelance writer of many things, she lives south of the river with her husband, daughter and two four-footed sons. After nearly 20 years in Austin, she is still in love with this little big town.

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