Why Volunteering Really Matters

This guest post is by Wendy Thurmond, PGK Board Member and mom of three.

The days of making sure they are asleep on their backs, cutting their food into tiny pieces and snapping their onesies are sadly over. Little kids, little problems. One of my biggest worries now, is making sure my kids have a conscience. On a recent trip to Miami, I was in awe of how many young girls spent a considerable amount of time on the beach taking so called selfies.  As opposed to being in the moment, they seemed more concerned with how they would look on social media. I immediately thought, how do I make sure that’s not my kids in 6 years?

For much of my life I have volunteered, to help others and to also take the focus off of me. Giving back wasn’t as easy when my kids were really little.  Once they hit elementary school I felt they were ready to give back, the problem was finding places that allowed them to volunteer at a young age. A friend mentioned Project Giving Kids, an interactive way to connect kids to causes. I fell in love with the concept, not only for its convenience, but for its commitment to helping raise kids to be better humans. Studies show kids who volunteer are more likely to feel connected with their communities, and less likely to engage in risky behavior, such as drug use. The non-profit Child Trends found kids who volunteer are much more likely to graduate from college than their peers. The evidence on the benefits of volunteering at a young age is abundant.

I sing the praises of Project Giving Kids to friends, colleagues and even strangers, any chance I get. The cause seems to resonate with everyone.   Those people have in turn gone to the site, registered and gotten their children involved. Old fashioned interaction has allowed me to hear from kids first hand about how, where and when they want to volunteer. Kids talk to other kids about what they have done, and they too want to be a part of the action. In this world of constant stimulation, staying relevant isn’t easy. As long as we at PGK continue to spread our wings and bring more phenomenal non-profits onboard, I believe the kids will come, but we depend on parents to be the facilitators.

Ego is the latin word for self. I always tell my kids too much ego is never a good thing. Volunteering will never go out of style, but I hope selfies will. To react to the outside world, you have to pay attention to it. When you are always pointing the camera at yourself, it’s hard to see what’s going on around you.  PGK has allowed my kids to see a small sliver of the real world; some parents spend weeks in hotels while their child undergoes cancer treatment, some kids can’t afford soccer cleats, and some elderly people never get a birthday card. PGK has helped take the focus off of us, and put it on those in need. A priceless education. Sure, I take plenty of cell phone shots of my kids volunteering, but the focus is on what they are doing, not what they look like.

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