This is a guest post from Create To Donate Ambassador Sandi Schwartz.
Participating in creative activities can bring so much joy, inspiration, and relaxation into our lives. What is even more spectacular, is that we can harness this creativity to make the world a better place by giving our crafts to those less fortunate than us.
Benefits Of Crafting For Charity
When we give back to our community, we benefit and the recipient benefits. Our brain chemistry actually changes when we do something nice for another person. Studies show that practicing kindness stimulates the vagus nerve, which is linked to the production of oxytocin in our brain. Oxytocin is a hormone that soothes us, making us feel calmer and happier. Kindness also triggers the production of dopamine, the hormone responsible for positive emotions and that natural high feeling we get.
In addition, when we give, we experience positive health changes including increased life expectancy, feeling less lonely, a stronger immune system, fewer aches and pains, decrease in stress and anxiety, and less depression.
My Family’s Experience
When my son was a toddler, I wanted to do some volunteer work in my community but quickly realized how difficult this would be with such a young child in tow. I could not find any child-friendly projects. I did not want to pay a babysitter and take time away from my son in order to volunteer, so I gave up for a few years.
But then about the time of my daughter’s first birthday, I was introduced to a woman who was organizing volunteer projects in my community. After a few brainstorm planning sessions, we developed the Kids Care program that my husband and I now sponsor. I am so proud and excited about this program because its mission is to organize hands-on volunteer projects for families. Many of the projects are focused on kids helping kids in need. I believe strongly in doing community work with my children to teach them about charitable service and to expose them to the world beyond their comfort zone.
Many of the activities we do entail hands-on art projects that families can do together as a team. We have decorated cards for veterans and the elderly, weaved rainbow loom bracelets for at-risk children, constructed toys from donated Legos for children with autism, and assembled colorful collection boxes for a homeless program. We completed a community service project using a WeeWork For Good kit that involved decorating a dog bowl and doghouse-shaped plaque to serve as a leash holder that we donated to a local animal shelter. Most recently we baked cookies for community helpers in our town and had the privilege of meeting the Fire Chief when we delivered the box of cookies earlier this week to acknowledge Patriot’s Day and remember 9/11.
Supporting Create To Donate
I am so thrilled to be part of this truly amazing event that merges creativity with giving. When I told my four-year-old daughter about Create To Donate and asked her what our project should be, she remembered how I used to make hair bows for her. She thought that would be so fun to do together.
I made a couple calls and found a local charity to donate the bows to. The Director of One Love One Community was so excited about our idea and said the girls it serves will be ecstatic when they receive the bows in a few weeks. My daughter and I have been hard at work filling up a shoebox of hair bows for these girls.
I challenge everyone to participate in this heartwarming cause that is so thoughtfully spreading love and joy through art.
Resources For Creative Volunteer Projects
It can sometimes be overwhelming to figure out what volunteer projects to do as a family and where to donate your goods. To help you get started, I have provided nine amazing resources.
- Generation On’s Family Volunteer Guide: This online handbook provides so many fabulous tips for families embarking on new volunteer activities, such as age-appropriate ideas, a searchable database to locate local volunteer opportunities, and ways to reflect after a project is complete.
- Doing Good Together’s Start Your Kindness Practice Worksheets: These easy printable worksheets guide your family in identifying your interests, priorities, and talents so you can choose the best volunteer projects possible.
- PBSkids.org’s Family Guide to Volunteering: This comprehensive printable booklet explains how to choose a project, provides important reminders while on-site at a project and offers ways to reflect and share your experience.
- Idealist: This is one of the best sites for searching volunteer opportunities all over the world. The best part is they provide an option to locate projects that are appropriate for families to do together.
- Charity Navigator: By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.
- GiveWell: Dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities through in-depth analysis. Thousands of hours of research have gone into finding our top-rated charities. They are evidence-backed, thoroughly vetted, and underfunded.
- GreatNonProfits: Helps people differentiate between nonprofits, find ones that they trust, and to encourage the community to be more confident in giving.
- JustGive: Its mission is to grow the world of giving by connecting people to the causes they care about.
- VolunteerMatch: Brings good people and good causes together.
No matter how artistically-challenged you think you are, you have something to offer to others in need. You may even discover hidden talents you never knew you or our children had!
About Sandi Schwartz
Sandi Schwartz is a freelance writer, editor, and researcher specializing in parenting, wellness, environmental issues, and human behavior.
She enjoys analyzing everyday life using science, humor, and a passion to improve the world. Her blog Happy Science Mom provides a parenting toolkit for raising happy, balanced children.
To learn more about her work, please visit www.sandischwartz.com.