August 19 was World Humanitarian Day. A day to honor humanitarian personnel and those who have lost their lives working to better this world. A day to recognize those incredible people working hard to bring relief to the millions of others living in conflict. This year, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),
“World Humanitarian Day 2019 [was] set to celebrate Women Humanitarians and their undying contribution in making the world a better place. Women Humanitarians hold a sense of unparalleled uniqueness, one that adds to the global momentum of female strength, power and perseverance. It is time to honor the women who have acted as first responders to the darkest hours of crisis.”
HECK YES! Did you hear that?! The focus of WHD 2019 was all about celebrating the women who selflessly do what it takes to effect change in the darkest of crises. Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked on all of the women AND men that put their lives on the line every day to help those in need, but taking a year to recognize the uniqueness of what women bring to the table…I can 100% get behind that!
Although this article is published after the actual day itself, I want to hear all your stories of amazing women out there getting the job done – leave their names and their stories in the comments below or tag them on our social media posts so we can all celebrate their efforts and learn from their courage and selflessness.
But aside from just celebrating the incredible women working tirelessly to improve millions of lives…my call to all of us mamas is to join in on humanitarian efforts and BE those women as well. We may not be in a position during this phase of our lives to hop on a plane to the most dire war-torn zones or places devastated by natural disasters while also trying to raise wonderful children. That’s okay. There are plenty of ways to get involved right here in our local communities to help those in need. World Humanitarian Day was an important reminder of the people who are struggling to have their basic needs met, both around the world and here in our own communities. We can all do something about it, even you, with your kids in tow.
Check out this list of ideas for you, and your kids, to get involved in your local community, and as always, leave a comment with any other volunteer opportunities you can add!
- Adopt a “grandfriend.” Visit a nursing home regularly. Play games, bring cards, swap stories, ask for advice, teach each other new skills, the sky is the limit.
- Donate to a food shelf or toy or book drive. Have your kid pick out out item(s) each time you go to the store. Fill up a bag/box and donate. You could also encourage your kid to do a toy drive for their birthday party instead of keeping the presents for themselves.
- Walk/Run for a Cause. Push your little ones in a stroller and let the older ones walk/run. Pick an organization that you’re passionate about and set a fundraising goal!
- Clean Up. Get gloves and trash/recycling bags and go clean up a park or neighborhood.
- Deliver Meals. You can pick the frequency – once a week, once a month, whatever! Check out Meals on Wheels for more info. This one is easy to do with littles in the car!
- Assist your neighbors. If you have elderly neighbors, a family in the midst of welcoming a new baby or going through a tragedy, or just someone who could use a helping hand, you have an opportunity to make a big difference right in your own neighborhood! Consider helping with yard work, shopping, carrying groceries or cooking for them.
- Grow a Community Garden. Volunteer at a community garden or start your own for your neighborhood! Consider adding a neighborhood compost program to help everyone make a difference with their compostable materials and help the garden thrive.
- Be a Home Crafter for Gillette Children’s or another hospital. Think no-sew fleece blankets, quilts, etc. You don’t have to be crafty to help make patients smile and feel a little more comfortable.
- Foster Inclusion with Special Olympics’ Young Athletes and Unified Sports programs. The young athletes program is for kids ages 2-7 with and without disabilities. Unified Sports are for people 8 and older to play on teams that include people with and without disabilities.
- Provide a home-away-from-home for families of critically ill children. See how you can volunteer in person or from home for Ronald McDonald House.
- Support food and housing initiatives. While these typically have age restrictions, organizations like Feed My Starving Children, Loaves and Fishes, Second Harvest Heartland, and Habitat for Humanity have a variety of ways for kids to get involved.
There are also many great sites out there already compiling volunteer opportunities in our area. One that I like is Doing Good Together. They list out volunteer opportunities each month and break it down by location, age and time commitment. You can also sign up for VolunteerMatch to filter by type and find opportunities near you or even virtual opportunities!
We all can come up with excuses not to volunteer…”I don’t have time”, “I don’t have childcare”, “My kids are too young”, etc. The truth of the matter is, we can all make the time if we really want to, it’s all about priorities. Mamas, you’re already changing the world by raising good humans, let’s continue to make our mark beyond our own walls.