My boys are 5 and 2 years old, but I believe it’s never too early to teach them about the value of serving others. Activities like walking in a family 5K dressed as superheroes for the Pregnancy and Family Resource Center, participating in the YMCA Bowl-a-thon and donating canned goods to a local food pantry near my son’s preschool are ways my husband and I have been able to involve our boys with acts of service. There are many ways you can give back in the local community! If you plan to volunteer as a family, be sure to consider the ages and abilities of your children and call beforehand to inquire about volunteer age requirements.
Kansas Food Bank provides hunger-relief throughout an 85-county service area. They partner with food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters across Kansas. Opportunities such as sorting food products, packing weekend carriers with kid-friendly food, answering phones and delivering meals are some of the ways volunteers can make a difference. Supervised children may be allowed to volunteer in the facility, but no young children under 5 will be allowed for safety reasons. For more information about any of the volunteer opportunities, please email [email protected] or call (316) 265-3663.
This international hunger relief organization is based out of El Dorado. Numana facilitates food packaging events where volunteers serve in an assembly line, packaging simple, nutritious meals. The meals consist of rice, soy protein, freeze-dried pinto beans and a blend of vitamins and minerals; the cost of each meal is only 30 cents! Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds are welcome. In addition to packaging the meals, another hands-on way to contribute is by working in the Numana Gardens. Located in El Dorado, the Numana Gardens are a collaborative effort where locally grown produce is donated to organizations such as Kids Need 2 Eat, El Dorado Salvation Army, Twelve Baskets and the El Dorado Family Worship Center. During May through August, volunteers are needed to work in the gardens (depending on weather/rainfall). Call 316-452-5445 for more information or to schedule a time to volunteer.
The Lord’s Diner exists to combat hunger in the community. The Diner’s mission is to serve a nutritious meal with dignity and respect to anyone who is hungry. An evening meal is served 365 days a year by a small paid staff, assisted by more than 6,000 volunteers. The Lord’s Diner is currently serving an average of 2,500 meals nightly at two dining facilities (one in downtown Wichita, and one in south Wichita) and two food trucks (one in northwest Wichita, and one in southeast Wichita), to any guest who needs a nutritious meal – 60 percent of which are families. Volunteers will need to call the Lord’s Diner to check available volunteers positions, obtain a food handlers card and attend a training session.
The Kansas Children’s Service League is statewide not-for-profit agency that provides a continuum of programs and services, advocating for children, and collaborating with other public and private agencies for increased effectiveness, efficiency and quality. Opportunities exist for teenagers and adults to volunteer with a wide variety of tasks such as painting buildings, child care and cooking and baking.
Kids Need 2 Eat (KN2E)
The vision of Kids Need 2 Eat is to help children receive daily access to nutritious food. With meal sites in El Dorado and Towanda, KN2E’s signature program is Kidz LunchBox: Free Summer Food & Fun, a program offering free meals to children for six weeks in the summer. In 2016, kids took home over 16,000 meals from meal sites at the Family Worship Center in El Dorado and the former HeBrews CoffeeHouse in Towanda. Visit the KN2E website for volunteer sign-up information, volunteer opportunities and ways to help with the Kidz Meals on Wheels program, a retrofitted school bus that will take meals to kids in Butler County beginning in 2017.
This ministry of Central Christian Church distributes food, clothing, furniture and other household items to people in the Wichita community. His Helping Hands focuses on providing assistance to victims of natural disasters, families living below the poverty line, or those families considered to be “at risk.” Service opportunities and volunteer applications for adults and minors are available via their website.
Ronald McDonald House Charities Wichita supports and provides programs that relate to the well-being of children. The houses provide safe, temporary housing and support for sick children and their families. Volunteer opportunities exist for Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald House Family Room (located in Wesley Medical Center), baking and meal volunteers and more. If you’re unable to volunteer, a great way for children, families, schools and companies to get involved is by collecting pull tabs. RMHC Wichita collects the metal pieces located on the top of pop cans and uses the funds from those recycled materials to help support families. Drop off your pull tabs at either Ronald McDonald House in Wichita (1110 N Emporia or 520 N Rutan).
The Kansas Humane Society takes in nearly 16,000 animals every year and relies on community support to fulfill many of the services and programs. Children as young as 9 can volunteer, but must be accompanied by an adult at all times. All volunteers, including parent/child teams, must fill out a volunteer application via the KHS website. Tasks could range from socializing animals to working with potential adopters to grooming and much more!
This emergency, temporary residential shelter for children keeps thousands of children safe each year with the help of volunteers. Volunteers assist in meeting the needs of the children and providing a nurturing environment. Volunteers must be 21 years old and may be asked to cook a meal, supply warm clothing or a variety of other tasks. A printable wish list of items for the shelter is available online; my preschooler loves being involved by helping me shop for items on the list!
The YMCA is one of the leading non-profits in the Wichita community, focusing on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Individuals, families and organizations can find ways to make an impact in the community through volunteer opportunities at the Y. Current and ongoing needs exist including youth sports coaches, special events, summer camps and administrative and facilities assistants. After filling out a volunteer application, volunteers will be contacted to discuss training, availability and needs.