This summer get your kids off the couch and involved in one of the local volunteer opportunities for young people. Getting kids involved in Philanthropy early in life teaches them that the world is essentially a good place and that they can be a part of that good. Studies also show that Philanthropy improves self esteem and can alleviate depression in people of all ages. Here is a, undoubtedly incomplete, list of philanthropy projects for the young in the Maplewood/ South Orange Area. With all of the philanthropies mentioned here, parents should expect to take an active role (aka get your hands dirty) After all, one on the best ways to install the value of philanthropy in your children is to model it.
For young children, there are several great options in the area. In July, the South Mountain Conservancy is running a Children's Philanthropy Series. For this series, children ages 3 and up will learn the value of environmental stewardship as they work with their parents to remove litter from the Summit Field Picnic Area of the South Mountain Reservation. Gloves and bags are provided. Closed toed shoes and long pants for both parent and child are recommended. Wednesday July 10th, 17th, 24th, 31st, 2-3pm, Meet at Summit Field by the Dog Park Parking Lot. Questions to email@example.com.
Another great option in Maplewood is the Maplefood Children's Garden, a project of the Maplewood Garden Club, is an organic food garden which supplies fresh veggies to local food pantries. Every Saturday from 9-11 am children and their parents harvest and tend the garden under the tutelage of head gardener Monika Hannemann. Monika, who has almost supernatural patience with the little ones, teaches them both gardening skills and respect for food. No gardening experience is needed. While registration is not necessary, it is helpful to email firstname.lastname@example.org so that they know how many people will be volunteering.
Another gardening opportunity in South Orange is the South Orange Elks Rent Party Garden is located at 220 Prospect Street, SO. Produce from this garden goes to the Food Pantries as well. Head gardener Kerry Miller leads volunteers in harvesting on Saturday mornings from 8:00-9:15 am. The Garden is tended on Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings from 10-12noon. No gardening experience is needed. This volunteer opportunity does require that you preregister. To volunteer, email Kerry Miller at email@example.com to coordinate a time slot.
Maplewood’s Adopt a Park Site Program is an opportunity for the whole family or a group. All of Maplewood's Public Parks have been divided into sites that are small enough for a single family or group to conduct a trash clean up in about an hour. By adopting a site, each group is agreeing to clean their site at least once a month. Every adoptive family or group will be listed on the “Maplewood is Green” website next to the site description for the site they have adopted. Each group must have an adult over the age of 18 who will be present at the cleanups. For more information, visit http://www.maplewoodisgreen.org/adopt-park-site.
For children 12 and older, the South Mountain Conservancy has a Forrest Regeneration Project. Participants learn about invasive species and help plant natives into the regeneration sites which are located at the Dog Park parking lot at Summit Field. This project is run by the knowledgeable Trish Zimic. While no gardening experience is needed, this is active, tiring work; so eat a good breakfast and wear long pants, sleeves and a hat. The Forrest Regeneration Project meets on the third Sunday of every month from 9:30- noon. See www.somocon.org for more details. Alternatively, if you have a group, like a scout troop, and would like to schedule a special clean up contact the Conservancies Forest Regeneration Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You will be surprised how much your children will love helping out and how proud of themselves they feel afterward.