An important part of homeschooling during the past year has been volunteering. Sophia, Olivia, and I have been doing a self-directed challenge: 52 Weeks of Giving.
Each week, we try to do something that focuses on giving of our time or resources. Sometimes we are able to volunteer from home, other times we need to bring items that we are donating to a location to drop off, and other times we share our time with people and/or causes who need it.
The girls have been involved with projects on a global level - like donating clothing and school supplies to children who live in a remote village in Africa who are struggling to survive. Clothing and a basic education - two things that we take for granted - are luxuries to these children.
We found out about this village through a family friend who was married last December to a man who grew up in the village, but was able to leave and further his education. He and his wife are now living in Washington D.C. and have made a commitment to collect items to ship back to the village where he was raised.
The girls also have worked locally to help others in need of free or inexpensive clothing. One of the programs that has filled a critical need in the community is the Sharing Shop which is based out of a church about a half hour from our home.
The Sharing Shop has quarterly clothing events where anyone from the community can come to the church and pick out as many clothes as s/he needs. The first bag for each person is free, and each one thereafter is $1. If you volunteer, you may choose clothes for free in exchange for your time.
One of the projects we did this past year was cut paper to line cages for orphaned and injured wildlife. This was a simple project to do and only cost us our time. It was also a great way to reuse newspaper and put it to good use once we were done reading it.
The girls also colored some pictures and sent them to an organization that distributes them to senior citizens receiving Meals on Wheels, who live in nursing homes, or who live at home and may need some cheering up.
Olivia coloring pictures for seniors.
Within the first few months of doing the 52 Weeks of Giving program, the girls were thinking of additional ways that they could give back and make a difference. They were caring for a neighbor's dog. Although they paid the girls, they decided to go above and beyond what the neighbors expected and for which they paid.
The girls spent extra time and made additional visits each day to the dog to ensure he was well cared for while the neighbors were gone.
The girls pet sitting for a neighbor.
One of the easy and enjoyable ways the girls like to volunteer and donate is through food. They either donate food to the food shelves on a regular basis; or help make food that can be served to those recovering from surgery or who have a medical issue that interferes with their ability to make food for themselves and/or others.
The girls donating food to a food shelf.
The girls also enjoy assembling kits or packages for those who are struggling in other parts of the world.
Hygiene Kit for someone in need.
Even though they help others throughout the world, they always remember those who live close to home who may be struggling. The girls were happy to put together a variety of items for men, whomen, and children who were homeless during the winter.
The girls have volunteered their time and shared their interest/abilities in music with others. During the past year, Sophia played in two recitals - one was at a nursing home at Christmas where she played two songs.
Sophia playing the piano at a concert at a nursing home.
Both the girls have performed at least once a month during the school year through the church choir. They have sang in church as well as at a nursing home.
Sophia and Olivia singing in the church choir.
Volunteering will continue to be a weekly focus during the rest of 2011. Starting in 2012, we plan to focus our efforts on organizations to which we feel the most drawn to, and to which we want to donate our time and resources.