Archive for November, 2017

  • Chapter 149- Volunteering in Milwaukee

    Volunteering and getting to know your neighbors is such an important value to teach your kids, especially in the wake of tragedies that are all too frequent.  I don’t have the one answer to our national community finding its way back to humanity and decency and kindness, but I do know that reaching out and giving can only help.

    On The Morning Blend, I’ll mention a few of my family’s favorite ways to donate our time, money and energy.  But there are so many ways to get involved that I’ve created a list with some tips for the blog.

    A few things to cover first:

    • It can be difficult to find organizations that accept young kids as volunteers, so get creative and volunteer from home!
    • Talk to you kids about why it’s important to care for others.  Explain that there are neighbors who don’t have enough money to buy food, clothing or gifts.  But those are real people like you and me, who could use some help.
    • You don’t have to spend money to donate.
    • Model charitable acts for your kids.  They aren’t going to be inclined to donate some of their allowance if they don’t see you making effort and sacrifice for others.

    Last spring, I logged on to our neighborhood’s Nextdoor page, and asked if anyone’s Little Free Library needed filling.  I had lots of responses of things like “Yes!  On the corner of __ & __, our library gets a lot of kid traffic and goes empty so quickly!”  People were so appreciative and excited.  I then asked my kids to gather up all the books we don’t read anymore, and we filled a few grocery bags full and piled in the car.  While I stayed in the car, I sent out my kids to fill each library and they always came back with smiles.


    Milwaukee Riverkeeper has an annual Spring Cleanup!  It’s an easy and family-friendly option to get outside and make a difference.  There’s even a map that predicts the amount of trash to be cleaned up, so you can plan accordingly.  They provide gloves and trash bags, you provide the boots on the ground.  And at the end of the cleanup?  Cookies!!

    Community Projects for Seniors has a unique way to volunteer from home.  The organization provides over 4,000 meals to elderly folks in our community over the holidays, and with that they deliver cheerful placemats on which to enjoy the meal.  You and your family can make placemats by decorating paper with positive messages and pictures.  Then send or bring them into CPS’s office.  Done!  Call beforehand to make sure someone is in the office, and click here for specifics about the project and other ways to join the cause.


    Another option is to bring old stuffed toys, paper towels, dog/cat food, and many other wish list items to the Humane Society.  Call your closest location to see what requirements they have about donating certain items, and get your kids involved in gathering supplies.  Then, when you bring it to the shelter, have the kids be a part of the process of handing over the items so they can be thanked by the other volunteers.  Donating = caring!

    Write letters of encouragement for veterans!  Mail Call is a way for you to make a card, and have it delivered and read to a veteran on a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.  There are lots of ways to send messages either online or via snail mail, and just takes a quick search online to find the opportunity that fits for you.

    Schools and many other organizations hold winter coat and food drives, which are great ways for kids to make a difference.  Last year for our school’s food drive, my kids each decided how much money from their piggy banks they’d donate (I supplemented with a few dollars).  We then took that money to the grocery store and picked out the healthiest and best options for donating.  We learned about the value of certain types of food vs. others, and when my kids brought their items to school, I could see how proud they were.

    A few other organizations we’re hoping to be a part of soon:

    • Victory Garden Initiative.  Join in on one of their BLITZ weekends and help move soil, install raised garden beds, prep soil for trees, and more.  This is best suited for older kids, but families can find ways to be involved by contacting VGI.  They also have an urban farm in the Harambee neighborhood, where you can find volunteers planting, harvesting, weeding and more.  Kids should be 8 years and older.  There is also a great AT HOME option of starting seedings in your home in January and February, which will then be planted through VGI’s Youth Education Program.
    • Riverwest Food Pantry has lots of locations and times to help get food to hungry people.
    • Toddlers & Kids on a Mission provides meals and events, and families with very young kids can get involved!  We’ve baked cookies to be served at meals in the past, which was a super easy way to help out.
    • Feeding America invites kids 10+ to join their parents in sorting and inspecting food to the hundreds and thousands of people they serve.  Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin distributes to hundreds of thousands of children, families, and seniors across 36 counties in eastern Wisconsin. Anyone interested in group or individual volunteer opportunities for kids should visit Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, and contact the Volunteer Engagement Coordinator to schedule an opportunity.
    • Core ElCentro is an amazing resource for people to get healthy!  Each volunteer opportunity has a slightly different schedule of day and time that it is available. Volunteers who volunteer 4 hours per month also receive free access to our holistic exercises (like yoga, zumba) and children are welcome to participate in class with their parents as well. Volunteering and exercising together is a wonderful way for families to spend time together, build community with others, and engage in other healthy classes and other wellness opportunities too!

    So however you can make a difference, let this be the nudge that says DO IT!  You’ll feel better, too!  If you’ve got suggestions, please let me know through comments, or on my Instagram account.  I’d love to hear what else is going on in the world of charitable giving in the Milwaukee area!