Volunteer Opportunities Near Greenville, SC For Families With Young Children

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More and more, families are using the holiday season to spread kindness and teach children the spirit of giving. Local mom Kristen Alcock and Kidding Around’s Melanie Coblentz are here with a number of ideas about how to include young children and volunteer as a family. Spread some cheer this season and give back!

For more volunteer opportunity ideas for older kids and adults see our list of ways to volunteer with kids in Greenville.

A Local Family Finds A Way To Give Back To The Community

Our family celebrates the season leading up to Christmas with an activity-filled advent calendar, which includes fun Christmas activities, as well as acts of kindness, giving, or service. But with three children under 4, finding age-appropriate opportunities can be challenging. While they are too young to volunteer at soup kitchens, hospitals, or food banks, there are still many things they can do in the Upstate to help our community.

Even young children can be charitable

Last year when my son was 2, and we were looking for a charity he would both understand and be excited to help, we chose the Greenville Humane Society. After setting a budget, my son helped us choose food, beds, and treats for the dogs and cats waiting for homes. He loved helping load up the shopping cart and carrying the bags. When we drove to the Humane Society building on Airport Road, he very proudly handed over the items we were dropping off. He got to meet some of the puppies and was so proud of himself for helping the animals. For more information and see the Greenville Humaine Society wish list.

Help with a Toy, Food, Clothing or Donation Drive

Young children can help collect items by asking neighbors, friends, or family members to donate. They can also sort items into boxes and help deliver everything to the designated drop-off spots. Families can also organize donation drives through several local charities. Items can be collected at Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, or even playdates.

Make Christmas Cards or Decorations

This is a great idea for little ones because the bulk of their volunteering can be done at home. Colorful paper chains, garlands, or pictures really brighten up hospitals, fire stations, retirement communities, children’s homes, or animal shelters. Be sure to call before delivering your cards or decorations. I’ve had several friends ask about sending Christmas cards to soldiers. One of the more popular organizations is Operation Gratitude. This organization sends care packages and letters to those who serve. Additionally, they collect Beanie Babies for soldiers to give to children in combat zones, and they also run a Halloween Candy Give-Back program.

Virtually Adopt a Family or Child

The Salvation Army of the Carolinas has several opportunities for families to serve throughout the holidays including their Adopt a Family and Angel Tree Program. Adopt a military family through Soldiers Angels.  This is not a local organization; however, you can request families in particular states. Operation Christmas Child is an international charity that delivers shoeboxes filled with toys and necessities to children in need all over the world. Many of my friends with small children do this because it’s something the kids will understand and can help with at home. This Christmas, you can still donate and have them create a box for you online.

Help with a Toy, Food, Clothing or Donation Drive

Young children can help collect items by asking neighbors, friends, or family members to donate. They can also sort items into boxes and help deliver everything to the designated drop-off spots. Families can also organize donation drives through several local charities. Items can be collected at Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, or even playdates.

Spread Cheer and Good Will

Bake cookies and make decorations to drop off at your local fire station, police station, hospital, urgent care, assisted living facility, or doctor’s office. Be sure to call first to make sure there is a good time to do this. Write letters or draw Christmas pictures to give to your mail carrier, neighbor, or teacher. My son is very shy, but one thing he has loved doing lately is handing out stickers to people he meets throughout our day. We recently bought a sheet of Christmas stickers, and so far he has handed them out to the cashier at the grocery store, the librarian, a friend who came over, and the UPS guy.

  • Make bird feeders hang in your yard to help birds through the winter.
  • Write a nice note or make a holiday card for a family member.
  • Make a batch of peppermint-scented play dough for a friend.
  • Buy a box of Christmas cards from the dollar store and leave them on windshields, in random mailboxes or hand them out to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers.

Ways Your Family Can Help Out Across The Upstate

Vests and litter pick-up sticks from Litter Ends Here
Litter Ends Here | Greenville, SC

Oftentimes we wish we could do more, but the time left in our day just doesn’t allow it. There are easy things that your family can do, that will make a difference.
There are also plenty of ways to help without making a huge financial commitment. For most parents, there’s no greater feeling than seeing your child helping another person, and we’ve included ways to help make that happen.
– Melanie Coblentz

Local Organizations That Rely On Volunteer Efforts All Year Long

When your family has time to offer – these local non-profits have creative ways your entire family can lend a hand.

  • Upstate Food Not Bombs 
    This non-profit group helps feed, clothe, and support the Upstate homeless population. They post updated needs weekly on social media. This summer my children and I purchased several tents to donate. It was eye-opening to my children that we would be providing shelter for people who had nothing to protect themselves from the weather. Putting together toiletry kits, snack kits or other needs in care packages is an easy and inexpensive way to get your children involved in giving the less fortunate a hand-up.
  • Ronald McDonald House Of the Carolinas
    For families with children who need medical care far from home, the Ronald McDonald home is a blessing. Every Ronald McDonald house thrives through the help of volunteers who generously donate their time. Children of any age can help collect soda can tabs for recycling to benefit the house. Have children decorate milk jugs, or 2 liter soda bottles and cut a slit in the top. Pass these containers out to family and friends and ask them to fill them with the tabs from aluminum cans. It costs nothing, and it will give children the satisfaction of helping out.
  • Spartanburg’s Humane Society
    The Spartanburg shelter is always looking for volunteers. Simple things like collecting and donating newspapers for puppy-training is something young children can do to help. View the Spartanburg Humane Society’s volunteer opportunities here.
  • Greenville County Animal Care
    This local shelter has a wish list, as well as the opportunity to sponsor an animal while they wait for their forever home. As well as a new program where school aged children read to shelter dogs, to help acclimate them to humans.
  • The Humane Society Of Greenville
    There’s a list of all different DIY projects that your family can put together to enrich the lives of shelter animals. Making no-sew fleece blankets, are a great way for your young child to help by tying knots in the fabric. If you can wrap rope around a wooden post, then you can construct a cat scratching post.  Not only will your children be helping out shelter animals, but they’ll be learning useful skills. So it’s a win-win. Check out the complete DIY list from the Humaine Society.
  • Day Before The Rainbow – Animal Rescue
    This animal rescue is committed to saving shelter animals that would otherwise be euthanized.  With the help of volunteer families, they place hundreds of animals in foster family homes and then go on to find them forever homes, They are always looking for loving families to foster these fur babies, and you can find the foster application online. If fostering isn’t right for your family, you can lend a hand at one of their adoption events at local pet stores. You have the satisfaction of helping a shelter pet find a forever home and the kids get to spend the afternoon playing with cuddly pups.
  • Greenville County Litter Ends Here
    This program offers an opportunity for children to earn rewards through an app, by uploading photos of completed tasks. The program supplies all the items your family will need – Safety vests, trash bags gloves, and litter grabbers. Litter pick-up doesn’t have to be on the side of a busy street. Your local park, your neighborhood, the neighborhood playground. Anywhere litter is found. Through the app, people can report litter that needs to be picked up, but you can get credit for cleaning up anywhere within Greenville. My son scooted around the lake in his kayak pulling plastic bottles out of the water and had a blast doing it.

Local Non-Profits That Rely On The Generosity of Donations

  • Hope Center for Children in Spartanburg accepts donations, and offers the opportunity to volunteer.
  • Spartanburg Soup Kitchen donations can be made any day of the week from 9 am – 12 pm or online.
  • P.S. I Love You Ministries in Spartanburg accepts clothing donations, as well as wish list items and care bag items, which are given to children in foster care.
  • While monetary donations are accepted, Mobile Meals of Spartanburg is another way your family can volunteer.
  • Daily Bread Ministries runs Greer Soup Kitchen. They have a wish list of items they need to stock the kitchen pantry.
  • SAFE Homes Rape Crisis Coalition in Spartanburg collects items for children and adults. See their Program Wish Lists.
  • TOTAL Ministries of Spartanburg has a food pantry list of needs and volunteer opportunities.
  • Upstate Family Resource Center keeps the Harvest Family Ministries Food Pantry needs list updated, which helps families in Boiling Springs and District 2.
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina has a Spartanburg food drop off location.
  • Atheists Helping the Homeless does a giveaway of toiletries, clothing, food to go, and a hot meal on the third Sunday of each month at 10 am at Hub City Farmers Market, during which volunteers are always needed. AHH also maintains a wishlist.
  • Greater Spartanburg Ministries has a list of current needs.
  • Greer Community Ministries provides items for Meals on Wheels Pets, the Food Pantry, and Sharon’s Closest. They keep an updated current needs list and accept items Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4 pm.
  • The Haven is a homeless shelter for families in Spartanburg. They have a needed items list.
  • DSS has a wish list for children in foster care in Region 1 (which includes Greenville and Spartanburg counties).
  • Lutheran Services of the Carolinas has wish lists for senior citizens, refugees, and foster care.
  • Thrive Upstate helps people with disabilities and special needs.  They accept monetary donations, craft supplies, notebooks, DVDs, CDs, educational games and toys, and more.
  • Calvary Home for Children in Anderson has a list of items in need.

For more ways to make a difference, check out our Guide to Volunteer Opportunities In Greenville & Spartanburg

About the Author
Melanie is a native New Yorker, who landed in the Upstate by way of Florida. She is the mom of two awesome kids, and the three of them love going on adventures!

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Sally
5 years ago

Miracle Hill link is out of date. Definitely not this year’s list. Please update as soon as possible!!

Candy
5 years ago

Hello! I would like to thank you for this list! It is awesome! I would also like to suggest another way kids can volunteer. They can volunteer through Taylor’s Team Kids helping Kids. You can check them out of facebook. We sponsor kids at the Hope Center for Christmas, do a DVD & teddy bear drive for the Children’s hospital, have a pediatric cancer buddy each month that we give a basket of their favorite things to, do a walk to raise money for the ACCO, & other things.