Volunteering has to be fun for kids as well as meaningful, so we have a few simple ideas to inspire your mini philanthropists in San Diego

Kids of all ages know how great it feels to help others and volunteering fosters a charitable attitude and awareness of the world beyond them. We’ve rounded up gestures both big and small that you can do as a family to benefit rescue animals, sick children, the homeless, the hungry, the environment, and more.

Solana Center for Environmental Innovation


It's worm-wrangling time! Every third Saturday of each month volunteers can head to the Solana Center to help care for earthworms. A vital part of the composting process, the worms need feeding and new worm beds. All experience levels are welcome. So dig in and get a little dirty.

Solana Center for Environmental Innovation
137 N. El Camino Real
Online: solanacenter.org

Helen Woodward Animal Shelter


Kids can create their own fundraiser (at home!) to support the Helen Woodward Animal Shelter. Whether it's a dog wash, lemonade stand, or bake sale, little helpers can use their imagination. Everyone wins. Little fundraisers gain experience and it helps the animals too. Young entrepreneurs can also organize a food or blanket drive to donate much-needed items to the shelter or they can start a neighborhood dog walking service and donate some of the proceeds.

Online: animalcenter.org

Wild Willow Farm


Dig in and help a real working farm in San Diego. From animal feedings and composting to digging and pulling, your crew is sure to get dirty and have fun. If little ones aren't yet up to being farm hands, they are welcome to walk around (supervised) and observe farm happenings and meet the animals. When done volunteering, take a nature walk on the nearby trail and have a picnic!

Online: wildwillowfarm.org

I Love a Clean San Diego


Sign up for a countywide or community clean-up to help beautify America’s Finest City. I Love a Clean San Diego’s mission is to make the city zero waste and litter free and to develop and inspire an environmentally engaged region. Volunteers clear half a million pounds of debris from San Diego’s neighborhoods, creeks, canyons, and coastlines every year.

Online: ilacsd.org

San Diego Humane Society


Want to help out furry friends? Any day is a great day to give to the San Diego Humane Society. Their wish list provides an easy opportunity to give from the comfort of home. Or get out into the community with a creative project to benefit animals in need of a ‘fur’ever home. You can also instill awareness and compassion in your kids via the Pet Pals program. Once a month, kids ages 6-11 can head to the San Diego Humane Society to interact with and learn more about animals.

Online: sdhumane.org

Rady Children’s Hospital In-Kind Program


Create joy for a child in the hospital anytime throughout the year. Donate a new toy, book, or video that will cheer up a child who isn’t able to go out and play. Top choices include matchbox cars and new-release movies. Stuffed animals and used toys are not accepted. Having your kiddo choose the donation allows them to take ownership of the project and feel good about helping too.

Online: radyfoundation.org

Feeding San Diego


According to Feeding San Diego, 1 in 8 San Diegans face hunger and food insecurity. A meaningful, memorable way to show you care is to volunteer with Feeding San Diego. Each Saturday, volunteers ages 6 and older get hands-on with food that is distributed to needy families throughout the county. You’ll spend 2 hours sorting produce or dry goods. The hard work creates a great talking point about not taking simple things for granted and being aware that people all around us are in need. 

9455 Waples St.
Ste. 135
San Diego
Online: feedingsandiego.org

Meals on Wheels We Care Packages


This service project is great for families and groups like Girl Scouts. Meals on Wheels serves meals to thousands of local home-bound seniors. But, did you know you can create a care package for these older neighbors and teach kids to honor their elders at the same time? Meals on Wheels loves donations that can be delivered alongside meals as a holiday or birthday present. Drop off care packages in gift bags or clear plastic Tupperware containers so they can be properly distributed by staff. Add joy by creating a special loving message for a senior. Donations can be dropped off at any of the four regional Meals on Wheels offices.

Online: meals-on-wheels.org

The San Diego River Park Foundation


There are plenty of ways to lend a hand with San Diego River clean-up and habitat restoration. You can connect with nature and give back to the community by gardening, beautifying the environment, and clearing it of trash. Check their event calendar for a plethora of volunteer opportunities from garden work parties to clean and green events.

Online: sandiegoriver.org/volunteer

Tecolote Nature Center

If you love to spend time together in nature, help keep our parks clean by volunteering your time at The Tecolote Nature Center. Their ongoing conservation efforts give families a great opportunity to help pull weeds, dispose of trash and gather recyclables. Many volunteer opportunities are available––so get in touch and find out how your clan can lend a hand.

Online: friendsoftecolotecanyon.org

Beach Cleanups with Surfrider Foundation


From the Oceanside Pier to Sunset Cliffs, our beaches are sacred places to many of us––places to play, watch a beautiful sunset and ride the waves. Help preserve the beauty of local beaches and teach kids to do their part to keep the ocean healthy by participating in a weekend beach cleanup. The Surfrider Foundation of San Diego County hosts beach cleanups most Saturdays along many local shores. Bring gloves, hats, and sunscreen. Trash grabbers and bags will be provided.

Online: sandiego.surfrider.org

Father Joe’s Villages


San Diego has the fourth largest homeless population in the nation. Father Joe’s Villages is the largest rehabilitation program for our city’s homeless. Kids age 10 and older can volunteer to serve meals and help at events. Read their list of volunteer FAQs for more information and to sign up to volunteer.

Online: my.neighbor.org

San Diego Food Bank


Kids ages 11 and older can volunteer at the San Diego Food Bank doing a variety of projects throughout a three-hour shift: cleaning and packaging produce, sorting, boxing and labeling food donations, and assembling food packages for various programs. The San Diego Food Bank serves an astounding 370,000 people per month in San Diego County.

Online: sandiegofoodbank.org


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