Give Back! 11 Volunteering Opportunities for LA Kids

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If the phrase “I want” is becoming more common than “please” or “thank you” in your house, it might be time for a healthy dose of giving back. Whether your little one would be more into cleaning up the beach or making get-well cards for Children’s Hospital, there are plenty of ways to volunteer in their community. Keep reading for 11 LA-based volunteer opportunities for every kind of kid.

photo: Creative Commons

For Nature Lovers

Heal The Bay
Kids of all ages are welcome to Heal the Bay’s monthly Nothin’ But Sand Beach Cleanups. BYOB (bring your own buckets), snag some gardening gloves and get ready to have some serious family fulfillment oceanside. Upcoming beach beautification days are Jul. 20 at the Venice Beach Pier, and Aug. 17 at the Hermosa Beach Pier. Be sure to register ahead of time as events tend to fill up fast!

Surfrider Foundation
The Los Angeles chapter of this national nonprofit hosts regular beach cleanups as well. This Saturday, Jun. 22, they’ll be at the Venice Pier with L.A. Galaxy, giving some TLC to the popular local spot (registration is required). You can also check out their event calendar for more upcoming summer opportunities.

photo: Maria McGinley

Have a kid that doesn’t mind getting dirty? Nearly every weekend, this LA organization hosts mountain and forest restoration events open to all ages—check the volunteer event calendar for upcoming dates as registration is required.

For Mini Marie Kondos

Westside Food Bank
Have a kid who’s not afraid of a little tidying up? Put their decluttering skills to good use at this family-friendly volunteer warehouse in Santa Monica, where they can help sort donations from local food drives. This summer’s all-ages sorting events will take place each Wednesday from 10:30a.m.-12 p.m. For more info, contact Allison Griffith at the Food Bank.

Teaching your children a lesson in philanthropy could be as simple as an overdue closet clean out! Get the kiddos to thin out those toy-stuffed cabinets or have little ones fill bags with brand new clothing that was barely worn. Baby2Baby also hosts volunteer opportunities Mon.-Fri., 9a.m.-5p.m. at their Culver City warehouse, during which participants (ages 7 and up) can sort and organize donations or help assemble gift bundle bags for low-income kids and families in Los Angeles.

photo: Steffen L. via Pixabay

For the Pet Obsessed

Have a kid desperate for a dog? Get them involved with this nonprofit organization, which helps low-income and ailing pet owners take care of their beloved animals. Insurance liability limits volunteer ages at shelters and kennels to those 18 and up, but kids (with grownups in tow) can assist by organizing and delivering needed supplies and food to homebound clients, fostering an animal for a short time, or even walking the dogs of people who are too sick to do so themselves. Find out more about the ways your little pet enthusiasts can help by contacting volunteer coordinator John Meeks to set up an orientation.

photo: Creative Commons

For Creative Kiddos

Children’s Hospital of LA
Tots can spread smiles with homemade cards for young patients. Getting mail is always a thrill (especially when you’re stuck in a hospital, away from friends and family) so put your pint-sized Picassos to work and send a bit of sunshine to sick kids who could really use some! Check out the very specific guidelines so you can make sure you provide the best giving and receiving experience possible.

Have a kid with a knack for writing? This group pairs children age 10 and up with intellectually and developmentally disabled counterparts (sharing like-minded interests). The goal? To create online pen pals in the attempts to decrease feelings of isolation. The long-distance friendships grow through weekly, private (anonymized) email communications, bridging differences and building understanding.


photo: istock

For Future Entrepreneurs

Big Sunday Lemonade Stand
Kids can set up a lemonade stand for a good cause with help from Big Sunday. The organization offers  downloadable signs and suggestions for how to make your stand a success. The money kids make will go to the Big Sunday Emergency Fund, which has helped displaced vets, families and more.

For Little Bookworms

Access Books
This group focuses on the redistribution of books, benefiting inner-city classrooms and school libraries. Little ones can go through their own shelves and select the gently used books they’ve outgrown to donate to others. Kids can also volunteer to help spruce up library spaces, as well as to organize book donations, librarian-style. Email Lorri to find out how you and your family can help.

photo: One on One Outreach

For Social Butterflies

One-On-One Outreach
Have a kid who likes meeting new people? Once a month, volunteers (age 7 and up) gather to pack and deliver groceries to low-income families in South Central LA. Organized by a local businessman and an area resident, One-on-One Outreach also provides laptops to families so students can compete and succeed. Prepare for your kids to be inspired.

—Jenifer Scott


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12 Ways Kids Can Give Back without Leaving the House