Giving Thanks With Kids: Five Ways to Volunteer in DC With Your Family


Tis the season to give thanks.  With whining toddlers, dirty diapers, and stress at home and work, many of us forget just how much we have to be thankful for amid all the chaos.  Thanksgiving provides parents with an opportunity to talk to children about being thankful and volunteering to give back to our community.

While there are limitless ways to serve, especially around the holidays, it can be challenging to find ways to get your family involved in volunteering.  But, it does not have to be.  The whole family can get involved with volunteer activities, even from home on a rainy day.  Below are five family-friendly ways to participate in community service activities as a family in the DC area this holiday season.

Toddler volunteers at DC Dian
Toddlers can be helpful volunteers at The DC Diaper Bank.

5 Ways to Volunteer in DC with Kids this Year

1. Sort Diapers At The DC Diaper Bank

Volunteers of all ages are welcome at the DC Diaper Bank Family Friendly Warehouse in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Families can work together to sort, pack, wrap, and stack diapers for distribution throughout the area.  There is even a play space for toddlers!

2. Volunteer to Serve Food And Run The So Others May Eat (SOME) Trot for Hunger

So Others May Eat (SOME) supports DC residents experiencing homelessness and extreme poverty.  In addition to providing food, clothing, and healthcare, SOME offers affordable housing, counseling, addiction treatment, and job training.  Specifically for Thanksgiving, SOME hosts holiday meals that need volunteers over age 12 to prepare and serve food, as well as an Annual Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger.  DC’s only turkey trot, the Trot for Hunger, is a 5k fundraiser for SOME.  Children 10 and under can participate in the Little Turkey One Mile Fun Run.

3. Participate In The Salvation Army Angel Tree

Build a holiday tradition around giving to children who are in need and can be especially vulnerable around the holiday season by picking an angel (or two) on the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Angel tree
Start a family tradition with The Salvation Army Angel Tree. Engage your child to pick out a gift for a child in need.

In addition to picking an angel and involving your children in shopping for gifts for a deserving child, you can volunteer at the Salvation Army National Capital Area Command Angel Tree Warehouse in Hyattsville.  The Angel Tree program provided holiday gifts to more than 6,000 families in the National Capital Area last year.

The local Salvation Army is also active at Thanksgiving.  The Salvation Army and Safeway work together for the Safeway Feast of Sharing at the Washington Convention Center on Thanksgiving Day.  You can volunteer to prepare food, serve meals, or help with cleanup after nearly 5,000 members of the community have a hot Thanksgiving meal.  Volunteers must be at least 12 years old.

4. Head To Arlington National Cemetery To Lay Wreaths Across America

Volunteers of all ages lay wreaths for each fallen veteran at Arlington National Cemetery.

Take the whole family to Arlington National Cemetery on December 15, 2018, to remember and honor our fallen veterans.  On the second Saturday of each December, Wreaths Across America aims to lay a wreath on the grave of every veteran at Arlington and more locations across the country.  Children of all ages are able to participate, and there is no need to sign up in advance.

5. Start Coloring For Cards for Hospitalized Kids and Color a Smile

Looking for a way to get your children involved with volunteering from home on a rainy or snowy day?  All ages can participate, from literally anywhere, to bring a smile to sick children, senior citizens, troops overseas, and more with these two organizations.  You can make cards, send them to Cards for Hospitalized Kids (CFHK), and CFHK distributes them to hospitalized children throughout the United States.  You can make cards for the holidays, any occasion, or just because.  Color for a Smile has free coloring pages that you can print, color, and mail to Color for a Smile.  Color for a Smile then distributes the artwork to senior citizens, Meals on Wheels recipients, and our troops.

Do you volunteer with your family on Thanksgiving? We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!