Want to make volunteer work a part of your homeschool experience? You can get started anytime!
Caring for others is a part of the human experience. It is also foundational to the Christian faith as we love God and love others.
We are a family of 14. There were many years when service outside of our home was very limited. However, because it is a part of who we are, we did what we could. During the really busy season of having a young family, we served in our church. We cooked meals, worked in the nursery, taught parenting classes, and such. These were things that we could do together as a family. We also picked up items for the town Thanksgiving baskets and dropped them off at the Town Hall. This was a simple task but showed the children that there are people with needs and we can help.
As some of the children became older, they began getting more involved in our neighborhood and small town. There have always been elderly neighbors around us, who we have checked in on. Sometimes they just need to see a friendly face, other times they need their path shoveled or some firewood brought in. They always love it when you bring them a piece of cake or a small meal.
Three of our sons and my husband serve on the town's volunteer fire department. Many towns no longer have volunteer departments, but you can always serve your firemen in other ways. Maybe drop off some cookies? When our oldest son was a senior, he was serving as a jr. firefighter. The department had funds for training available and they offered it to my son to take the Firefighter 1 and 2 courses. These are college credit courses. We were able to use these as high school credits while, at the same time, getting him training for his future.
There are organizations all around you that need people to clean their buildings, help set up and tear down for events, shovel snow, rake leaves, etc. Where is your area of interest? Our family has done volunteer work with the library, the community club, the historical society, the town office, the church, the fire department, Homeschoolers of Maine, giving respite for foster families and volunteering for many Christian organizations.
When our oldest daughters were in their high school years they volunteered at a summer camp. They started out by serving in the kitchen. Their senior year they spent the entire summer there doing a variety of jobs including being counselors. This camp has a spring work weekend. Our entire family would go for those weekends and there were tasks that even the younger children could help with.
As a requirement for graduation from our homeschool, our children must choose somewhere to volunteer their time during their high school years. Our two oldest volunteered at the summer camp, our 3 oldest sons were volunteer Jr. firefighters, and one daughter volunteered at a private Christian school once a week. Our whole family worked together on HOME'S Inventory Reduction Sale. One daughter, in particular, worked with me at every sale, learning the ins and outs of the whole job.
During Covid, our town office had lots of Christmas gifts to wrap but could not have unrelated people in the same room together. Because our family is large, they asked us to do the wrapping. Because we all lived in the same house, we could all come and work together and get lots of work done.
The things that I have mentioned are only the tip of the iceberg. What's happening in your town? Where can your students or your family get involved?
Because we live in a fallen world, working with others comes with challenges. This is a great time for all of us to learn better people skills. Listen to people. Learn from people. Work out differences. Hold your tongue. Encourage people. Point out others' abilities and gifts instead of their flaws.
Have loving, firm boundaries, and don't allow your children to be taken advantage of.
There are times for your children to volunteer and there are times when they should get paid what they are worth. A couple of examples; The healthy lawyer who lives down the street should be paying your kids to put in his firewood. The 100-year-old neighbor, across the street, who is living on a tight budget, is legally blind and unsteady on his feet, needs a helping hand.
We once had a young Mom who wanted our kids to babysit for her for free. The kids volunteered and it quickly got out of control. She was wanting them to babysit so that she could go out for "me time" to shop. She would come home and show my kids all of the things she bought for herself while not paying them anything for the hours they had worked. I put a stop to it, because I felt that she was taking advantage of my kids. Many other times they have done free babysitting for families who found themselves in a difficult situation, such as Mom having to go the hospital, a migraine to the point Mom could not function, help after a C-section, etc.
If you make a beautiful meal for a family who just had a baby, double it and make the same meal for your family. Always let them know that they are treasured as much or more than the people you are caring for.
Have fun making the world a better place and go love people!!
Michelle Collomy is a homeschool Mom who has 12 children. Michelle and her husband are HOME Regional Representatives who have been homeschooling their children for 25 years. Their children range from 30 down to 12. They are active in their church, their hometown of Hiram and in the homeschool community. Michelle's greatest joy is spending time with her 11 grandchildren.