By Cassie Galasetti
Volunteering is one of the most rewarding things a young person can do. It can teach new life skills, improve mental and physical health, and maybe even help make a new friend or two along the way.
By lending a helping hand to those in need, you not only change your life, but the lives of others in your community. At a young age, all of these benefits can make for a well-rounded individual. Jessalynn Moro is president of an organization in Oceanport called KidsGive that was started to provide kids and their families a way to work together for the good of the community.
Moro explains the benefits of youth volunteers: “Volunteering provides a tangible way for kids to connect to the world around them and see that they have the power to affect positive change. It doesn’t matter what type of volunteering they do; working in the service of those in need teaches perspective, gratitude and responsibility.” To that end, here are five kid-friendly places to volunteer in our area:
Riverview offers a youth volunteer program for many different areas of the hospital. This type of environment will give real-world experience by not only aiding others but helping to improve self-worth. And who knows, volunteering in a hospital could inspire your child to become the next successful doctor or physician.
Clean Ocean Action invites volunteers of all ages to help rid beaches and waterways of unsightly and harmful debris. This is a great way for kids to learn about our shores and begin to learn how litter affects fish, whales, birds and other wildlife. Clean Ocean Action coordinates sweeps all over Monmouth County, including Atlantic Highlands, Sandy Hook, Sea Bright, Red Bank and Rumson.
In Monmouth County alone we have close to 40 different parks, spanning 301,804 acres. The park systems offer a junior volunteer program (ages 14-17) as well as group volunteers (ages 13 and younger) for those who sign up with church organizations, Boys and Girls Scouts and more. Kids can volunteer by cleaning up parks, planting and even helping at theater performances and demonstrations at farm and historic sites.
Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park is nonprofit organization offering a bike-earning program for children, as well as affordable bike sales and repairs. What’s amazing about this organization is children can learn a new skill as well as see a project through to completion. Youth are asked to put in 15 hours of volunteer time and in exchange, will receive a bike of their own or help fix a bike for someone else in need.
At the Middletown Public Library youth volunteers can perform a variety of different tasks from bookshelf maintenance to seasonal projects throughout the year. Having a regular volunteer schedule can help encourage reading and meeting new people in the community. Many local libraries have similar programs.
Looking for more ideas? KidsGive will host its first event, Love 4 Lunch Break on Feb. 11 where representatives will be collecting donations, sorting, creating valentine-themed care packages and delivering all items to Lunch Break in Red Bank.
This article was first published in the Jan. 25-Feb. 1, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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