Make a Wish Come True
The Make-A-Wish Foundation Connecticut Chapter grants the wishes of children diagnosed with life threatening medical conditions. Children in kindergarten through 12th grade can participate in Kids for Wish Kids, a program that develops project ideas to fundraise for the organization. Create your own event and/or recruit others to help. Volunteers don’t need to raise enough to sponsor a whole wish; every little bit helps a wish come true. A bake sale, pajama days, car wash, read-a-thon, or penny drives are all great ways to start raise money. The foundation is also always looking for adult volunteers to help out in several different roles from administrative support to wish granting. To apply for a volunteer position, go to ct.wish.org and look under the “Ways to Help” tab. For more information, call 203-261-9044, or contact Nancy Diehl, office manager, at [email protected]. 126 Monroe Turnpike, Trumbull.
Join the Corps
If your young one has really taken to volunteering, the Youth Volunteer Corps of Western Connecticut is the perfect organization to join. YVC gives children ages 11-18 the opportunity to work on service projects throughout the school year, after the school day, and on weekends. Whether it’s helping serve food, promoting literacy, or sprucing up the environment, kids gain experience in volunteering that is challenging, rewarding, and educational. For more information, contact director of volunteer services Casey Levene at 203-797-1154, [email protected]. 85 West St., Danbury.
Lend a Hand, Any Way You Can
The Ronald McDonald House of Connecticut welcomes volunteers of all shapes and sizes (and ages!). The 12-room house offers a temporary “home away from home,” including a kitchen, laundry facilities, a playroom, and a library for out-of-town families whose children are undergoing treatment at nearby hospitals. There are countless ways for local families to lend a hand, such as holding activities for guests, cleaning and decorating the house, preparing and serving dinner for guests, or just stopping by to lend your support to a family going through a tough time. For more information, call 203-777-5683 and ask for Wendy Kirby or visit online. 501 George St., New Haven.
Raise a Roof
A true sense of accomplishment—not to mention great hands-on experience—can be gained by building homes with Youth United, a program by Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County for youth ages 5-25. The program provides children with safe ways to get involved in building houses for families in need, right in their own community. There are many ways to get involved with Habitat CFC. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are the lifeblood of the organization. Whether you are interested in swinging a hammer, organizing a fundraiser, or serving on a committee, your participation will be welcomed. Students must be 16 or older to do actual house construction (one work day per month). There is also one work day a month for younger students, which may involve painting, landscaping, fencing, or craft work. There are opportunities for groups as well as individuals. All volunteers are asked to attend planning meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at 7:30pm at the Habitat office (1542 Barnum Ave., Bridgeport). Volunteers can sign up by emailing Eileen Bakos at [email protected].
Spring Clean Your Closet
Take the time to help others as you help yourself. Enlist your kids in the process of cleaning out their closets to donate old clothes. It can even turn into a fashion show to see what still fits. Take your kids with you when you donate the clothes so they can see the impact of their good efforts. Check with your local Salvation Army thrift store for instructions on donating clothes:
1174 E. Main St., Bridgeport; 203-384-6934
129 Main St., Danbury; 203-792-9799
Start Your Own Project
DoSomething.org is one of the largest organizations in the United States that helps young people rock causes they care about. Kids ages 12 and older take action all year through Do Something’s campaigns and their own projects (apply here). For more information, call 212-254-2390 or visit online.
Support a Senior
At local nursing homes and rehabilitation centers, the gift of your time can make all the difference to an elderly individual. Stop by one of the locations below to play a card game, make a craft, color pictures, or design cards with a senior resident. If your family really wants to devote some time, you can “adopt a grandparent” and invite them to dinners and holiday parties. Here are a few nursing homes that accept volunteers:
Children ages 13 and older may apply independently (younger children may come with a parent supervisor) to become junior volunteers at Waveny LifeCare Network. Apply your talents, incorporate your interests, and assist with daily activities. Volunteers may receive credit for school. For more information, contact Debbie Perron, director of volunteers, at 203-594-5334 or [email protected] 3 Farm Road, New Canaan.
The Westport Center for Senior Activities offers nutritious congregate and home-delivered meals as well as recreational and educational programming. For more information on how you can lend a hand, call 203-341-5099 or visit online and look for the Senior Center link. 21 Imperial Ave., Westport.
Walk for a Cause
Head to nymetroparents.com/walks to find fundraising walks in your community. Walking together for a cause can bring your family closer together while supporting a worthy organization. It’s also a great way to get outdoors, add exercise, and make new friends. Most charity walks in the Connecticut and the New York metro area take place in the spring and fall. Be sure to plan ahead, because the sooner you register, the longer you have to raise money for the cause. Coming up: March for Babies in May, Great Strides: Taking Steps to Cure Cystic Fibrosis in June, Walk Now for Autism Speaks in June.