This past Saturday I introduced my two boys (ages 9 and 6) to the concept of giving back. I was able to do this through an amazing, start-up nonprofit called Little Helping Hands.
My boys are the beneficiaries of a sheltered, middle-class, American lifestyle. Because of that, they really have no concept of how incredibly lucky they are. I’ve talked to them about how some children don’t have as many toys as they do, in fact some don’t even have dinner every night. And we’ve discussed the disasters in Haiti and Pakistan. They even made their first financial donation last Christmas to our local toy drive. We did some research on a few nonprofit organizations, talked about what sort of impact we wanted to have, and then took a vote about to which organizations we would donate. It was eye opening.
But volunteering is another story. I have searched for over a year for volunteer opportunities for little ones. And let me tell you, in my community there are very few. Until now.
A friend introduced me to a fabulous start-up nonprofit in Austin called Little Helping Hands. The organization was started over a year ago by a mother of two small children who became frustrated with the lack of volunteer opportunities for small children in a city with one of the most volunteers per capita in the country. So she started Little Helping Hands.
It is brilliant in its simplicity. She partners with other nonprofit organizations that come up with 90-minute volunteer jobs that any age can handle.
Last Saturday, my boys and I went to Goodwill’s state of the art computer recycling warehouse, Computer Works, and tore apart computers for recycling and resale. The warehouse is a zero waste site that takes donations of old or discarded computers, takes them apart and sells or recycles the parts. So my boys got to actively participate in recycling. But they also learned that the money Goodwill gets from the sale of computer parts goes to find unemployed people jobs. So my boys’ 90 minutes of work helped to save our environment and put people to work. That felt pretty good.
After our work pulling apart computers, we got a kid-friendly snack and each boy got a card with a hand stamp recognizing their effort that day. Once they collect three hand stamps they will get a free Amy’s ice cream cone.
This whole program was obviously designed to make kids LOVE volunteering. And it definitely worked on my boys. They asked if we could volunteer every Saturday from now on. I have no doubt that Little Helping Hands is going to help me create two life-long volunteers.
This idea is so popular and fills such a need in our community that it is difficult to secure a volunteering spot each month. In fact, they have had to limit each family to 2 volunteer opportunities per month. The events are currently run by volunteers, and they can’t get enough adult volunteers to manage the number of events that demand requires. If ever there was a nonprofit that could use growth capital, this is the one.
But I’m confident they will figure it out. An idea this smart and well executed will find a way to thrive and grow. And my boys will be much more engaged citizens because of it.
Photo Credit: Little Helping Hands. Pictured are Little Helping Hands Founder Marissa Vogel with her daughters.