Monday, June 1, 2015

Volunteer Opportunities for Families

For many, another school year has come to an end.  Parents and caregivers will soon be looking for ways to entertain their children during the summer months.  When talking with some friends recently about their plans for summer break, they expressed interest in finding a list of family-friendly volunteer opportunities in our area.  Knowing others may share these feelings, I decided to compile a list and publish it on this blog.  

During my research, I came across an incredible list of volunteer opportunities for individuals in the Cincinnati area on the Public Library of Hamilton County and Cincinnati website.  The information provided on this library website was used as I searched for organizations that welcome younger volunteers.  While many of the opportunities are located in Cincinnati, some of the organizations have locations across the United States.  Through a quick Google search, I discovered  This website allows users to "uncover new volunteer opportunities that matter to you, wherever you are."  Even if you don't live in Cincinnati, there may be organizations in your area that are similar to those listed below that would welcome your help. 

The list below provides the names and contact information for organizations that encourage involvement of children and adult chaperones.  If our family or Girl Scout troop has participated with the organization, a link to the appropriate blog post will be included to provide more information about our experience.  

Additional service project ideas for your family and friends can be found in my recent post Fill With Kindness--Random Acts of Kindness.

American Red Cross
2111 Dana Ave.
Cincinnati , OH 45207 
Phone: 513-579-3000
To volunteer, click here!

Back2Back Ministries
Mason, Ohio
In February of 2013, I went on a mission trip to Mexico with Back2Back Ministries.  Upon my return, I volunteered in the office on a regular basis.  I sorted through donations, stuffed envelopes, addressed birthday cards, and helped coordinate volunteers for a fundraising event.  I occasionally brought work home, and my young daughters enjoyed helping me complete the projects.  In addition to mission trips and child sponsorship opportunities, there are several different ways to volunteer with B2B.  While some jobs are best suited for teenagers and adults, there are other projects that may be appropriate for families with school-aged children.  Contact B2B for more information. 

Bake Me Home
1623 Burney Lane
Cincinnati, OH 45230 
513-231-HOME (4663)
Our Girl Scout troop scheduled a time to work at Bake Me Home.  The girls packed cookie mix in mason jars that would be given to families moving out of a shelter into a new home.  My family volunteered on a separate occasion, and we baked cookies that were to be distributed as favors during a fundraising event.  

Bethany House 
1841 Fairmount Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45214
(513) 557-2873

Volunteers are needed to serve meals, host ice cream socials, and provide evening childcare.  Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
Interested in volunteering? Click here!

Cincinnati Nature Center    
Rowe Woods in Milford, Ohio, and Long Branch Farm and Trails in Goshen, Ohio.
There are several Land Stewardship volunteer opportunities at CNC:  serve on the Adopt-A-Spot Clean-Up Crew, Adopt-a-Trail, or work as an Herb Wall Gardener.  They also offer Family and Group Workdays.  For more information, visit their website.

City Gospel Mission
1805 Dalton Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45214
Serve men and women who may be dealing with homelessness, brokenness, unemployment, or addictions.  Volunteers serve dinner, tutor at-risk children, and help during special events.  Donations are being accepted.  Here is the City Gospel Mission wish list.

My husband and I joined other volunteers from our church to serve dinner at City Gospel Mission one Friday a month when our girls were younger.  While we did not take our children with us, many other volunteers did.  The little kids were in charge of the hand sanitizer or they helped their parents carry the plates. 

Years ago, I had the chance to serve as a mentor with X-treme Adventures HorsePower, a youth outreach ministry of City Gospel Mission, giving at-risk youth lessons about life through interaction with horses.  They have a new non-profit called Heavenward Farm and Horsemanship, with HorsePower outreach ministry and H.A.P.P.E.N.I.N.G.S. equine-assisted therapy as their programs.  Monetary donations are definitely welcomed and should be made to HFH.  There are always projects that need to be done as well as general horse and grounds care.  They do have a website, although it is still under construction:  and a FB page:  HorsePower at Heavenward Farm.  For more information and to get involved, contact  

Crayons to Computers 
1350 Tennessee Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45229
Crayons to Computers provides a free store for teachers, offering new and gently used school supplies, educational tools, and incentive items.  There are different volunteer opportunities for children 8 years and older when accompanied by an adult.  For more information, visit their website.  Our Girl Scout troop knit hats and donated them to the Crayons to Computer’s Keep Our Kids Warm campaign to supply hats, gloves, and scarves for students in need. 

Fisher House 
3200 Vine Street
Cincinnati, OH 45220

The Fisher House provides veterans and their families a place to stay while they are receiving medical treatment at the VA Medical Center.  To learn how you can help, visit their website:

500 Gardens in Madisonville 
They need volunteers to help build gardens, mentors to help and coach beginning gardeners, funds and/or materials for gardens, and for people to promote and advertise the project.  For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Freestore Foodbank
112 E Liberty St
Cincinnati, OH 45202
(513) 241-1064
One Saturday morning years ago, my husband and I volunteered at the Freestore Foodbank.  We helped sort donations that had been delivered throughout the week, and we helped unload donations from cars as they arrived.  To volunteer, click here!

Go Cincinnati 
3500 Madison Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45209
Traditionally this event has been held on the third Saturday in May.  There are 
volunteer opportunities for children of every age.   Online registration opens in 
the spring.  Want to transform our city? Learn how you can get involved here.

Granny's Garden School
(513) 324-2873
Gardens are located on school grounds in Loveland, Ohio. 
There are volunteer opportunities for individuals, families, groups, and sports teams.  They "offer a wide variety of volunteer opportunities seven days a week, February-November. There is an endless list of outdoor tasks to complete but we also have many projects to keep us busy on rainy days and during the winter.   You can volunteer in the gardens, in the office, virtually or take on special assignments." 

Great Parks of Hamilton County

June 6, 2015.  9am to noon.  National Trails Day at Miami Whitewater Forest.
Remove invasive species, pick up litter on trails, and improve trail surfaces to improve ease of use before enjoying a naturalist-led hike and lunch provided by REI.  (Volunteers must be at least 14 years old for this event). Find a National Trails Day event near you.

June 20, 2015.  9am to noon.  Ohio River Sweep.
Make a difference in the quality of the Ohio River.  (Volunteers of any age are welcome).  For a list of 2015 River Sweep Locations by County, click here.

Check the Great Parks of Hamilton County Event Calendar for Fall Event updates.  When I called to speak with the Volunteer Coordinator, I was given great information to post for readers.  The following opportunities are perfect for families and groups:

September 26, 2015.    Join in a nationwide effort on National Public Lands Day.  
Remove trash, collect invasive plants, maintain trails, and plant trees.  Hamilton County Parks are focusing their efforts from 9am to noon at Glenwood Gardens this year.  Find a site near you.

Take Root with REI and plant trees at Sharon Woods.  DATE FOR THIS FALL EVENT IS TBD.

October 10, 2015.    9am to noon.  Tree Planting and Educational Program at Winton Woods.

October 24, 2015.  9am to noon.  Make a Difference Day.  Hamilton County Parks will plant trees and improve trails at Lake Isabella and Miami Whitewater Forest this year.

October 24, 2015.  9am to noon.  Great Miami River Cleanup at Shawnee Lookout.

Hands Against Hunger (A Child's Hope International)
Click here to volunteer!
2430 East Kemper Road
Cincinnati, OH 45241
While I do not have experience with this specific organization, several of our friends have packed meals with Hands Against Hunger.  Our family and Girl Scout troop have had similar experiences packing meals during a Feed MyStarving Children MobilePack Event

League for Animal Welfare
4193 Taylor Road
Batavia, OH 45103
Children may volunteer if supervised by an adult.

Lighthouse Youth Services 
To volunteer, check out this website. 
401 E. McMillan
Cincinnati, OH 45206
This organization operates a foster care and adoption program in Hamilton County.  They provide a homeless shelter for individuals ages 18-24 as well as a runaway shelter for teens.  They have a Community Warehouse that is run by volunteers and exists solely on donations.  They maintain a garden and have a charter school.  To work directly with the youth, volunteers must be 21 years of age.  Click here to discover 40 different ways you can help.  There are numerous ways to volunteer with younger kids.  Here are just a few ideas:
  • Host a donation drive (examples include socks and underwear, personal hygiene items, and non-perishable food items)
  • Bake goodies for a Lighthouse Residential Facility
  • Create packages filled with toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and hand sanitizer for the Lighthouse Street Outreach Team to distribute to homeless youth
  • Make peanut butter sandwiches or create snack packages for homeless youth living on the streets
  • Make No Sew Blankets
  • Make/Decorate placemats for the kids living in a homeless shelter or group home 
  • Make holiday treats for the kids living in a Lighthouse facility
Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly 
5530 Colerain Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45239-6802

Adult volunteers must submit an application and attend an orientation.  At that point, they are welcome to bring children with them.  Volunteers make visits to a person's home during the holidays, and this organization serves individuals living throughout Hamilton County.  Special events are held at their facility in Colerain.  There are also opportunities to volunteer during social outings.
For more information about volunteering, click here!

Matthew 25 Ministries
11060 Kenwood Rd 
Blue Ash, OH 45242
We planned a Near Sleepover for our Daisy Girl Scout troop.  Before the event, our girls and their
families went through closets and drawers to find gently-worn pajamas to donate to this organization.  For more information, visit this page.

Our Daily Bread 
1730 Race Street
Cincinnati, OH 
Volunteers of all ages may bake a birthday cake or create birthday bags, serve meals, or stock and 
organize the food pantry.
Become a mentor or reading buddy (volunteers must be at least 13).

Ronald McDonald House
350 Erkenbrecher Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45229
Our Girl Scout troop hosted an Ice Cream Social for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. 

Yellow Ribbon Support Center
This organization "supports our soldiers deployed in harm’s way by sending care packages to individual soldiers with nice to have items from home." Click here to view the Soldiers' Wish List.

Are you aware of other organizations in the Cincinnati area that invite children to participate?  Please feel free to share, and I will update this list.  By encouraging the young people in our lives to volunteer regularly, we're working together to make this world a better place.  Have a fun and safe summer!  Thank you for reading.  

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