SEVEN WAYS KIDS CAN GIVE BACK ALL YEAR LONG

STORY: Sue Rodman

It’s time for gift-giving, and in addition to showing people we care through presents, parents often look for ways to teach their children about the less fortunate through volunteering. But kindness is a year round endeavor. These seven organizations offer ways that even the youngest child can practice empathy no matter what month it is.

Locks of Love

Kids generally like helping other kids, and it’s as easy as getting a haircut when they donate their tresses to Locks of Love, a nonprofit that provides hairpieces to disadvantaged youngsters with long-term medical hair loss. To donate, your child’s hair must be at least 10 inches long and in a ponytail. Donations can be mailed directly to Locks of Love. locksoflove.org

Project Linus

Need something to keep the kids busy over a school break? How about learning to knit? Blankets are fairly easy even for beginners and can be donated through Project Linus to an ill or traumatized child. Don’t know what to make? Knitting patterns are available online, but you can also make no-sew fleece blankets. Before beginning, contact the Atlanta chapter to determine the types of blankets needed and to arrange a drop-off location. projectlinus.org

Furkids

Furkids is the largest cage-free, no-kill animal shelter in Georgia. In addition to adoptions and donations, Furkids also fosters animal kindness through a youth volunteer program. Activities are open to all ages who want to take care of or read to cats (which also helps kids hone their reading skills). And anyone 12 or older can volunteer to be a dog handler at weekend adoption events at the Buckhead Petco or PetSmart locations. furkids.org/volunteer/youth-opportunities

Soles4Souls

Even the youngest child can gather up old shoes. Soles4Souls collects gently worn sneakers, sandals and more to distribute to people in need, as well as to entrepreneurs in developing countries who sell the shoes to provide for their families. Youngsters can gather their own shoes or host a shoe drive through their schools or neighborhoods. Donated footwear can be dropped off at Abbadabba’s or DSW in Buckhead. DSW Buckhead Station will even add 50 VIP rewards points to your card for shoe donations (limited to 50 rewards points per day). soles4souls.org

Soldiers’ Angels

Schools will often do a holiday card project for servicemen and women overseas, but December isn’t the only time of year these heroes need attention and encouragement. The Soldiers’ Angels Cards Plus Team sends notes of support for birthdays, anniversaries, a new baby, a welcome home or even just because. Adopt a soldier and be the touchstone someone needs all year long. soldiersangels.org/cards-plus-team

My Sister’s House

My Sister’s House is an overnight shelter on Howell Mill Road for homeless women and children. Being homeless often means only having what you can carry, so toys get left behind. Kids can hold a teddy bear or stuffed animal drive to give children in the shelter a special friend to help them acclimate to their new surroundings. All donated stuffed toys must be new. atlantamission.org/my-sister-s-house

Random Acts of Kindness

Need more inspiration? Random Acts of Kindness is a website full of ideas on how to be thoughtful and generous. Some kid-friendly suggestions include leaving a surprise in your mailbox for the mail carrier, bringing in your neighbor’s trash cans, tutoring someone in a subject you love or pet sitting for a friend or family member going on vacation. randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas