Kat Foronda, a college student in Nevada has been helping Three Square Food Bank and Feeding America get the word out about hunger (and has previously been featured on this blog). We have invited her to write some guest blog posts about hunger in America. This is the fourth of a series of posts she has written.
A good number of people understand the importance of volunteerism in one's community. Essentially, your community is your home, and ideally everyone does what they can to take care of their home. They keep it clean and support the other members they share their home with. Community service allows you to do just that, and more. It give you the opportunity to also give back to a place that so graciously provided you a comforting place to stay and grow.
Some parents do not feel comfortable with allowing their children to serve their community while they are still in school. They say that their child's priority is their education and their family. Instead of spending any free time they have taking care of their community, they can be taking care of their household instead. Also, what their kids gain from community service anyway, they wonder. It's not like they understand what it really means anyway. Other parents encourage volunteerism when their kids are in high school. They say it builds character and it's great for resumes for when they want to get into college or find their first job. That is an absolutely excellent point. These parents are getting it. However, they feel that any volunteer work their kids do before high school is meaningless. What merit do they gain from it? At that young of an age, no one will notice what they're doing anyway. It's not like they can add that they volunteered at the age of 10 to their portfolio or anything like that, so really, at the elementary school level there is no need for their kids to be doing community service. They won't understand what they're doing it for, and they don't really gain anything of it. Just wait for them to get to high school, maybe middle school, and then they'll be old enough to understand what they're doing and be able to use their service to their advantage.
Those last parents seemed like they were on the right track. They had a good idea of the benefits of having young adults do community service during their high school and maybe middle school years, but they believe that having children do it any sooner than that is pointless. The thing is, children are HIGHLY impressionable, and it is at those elementary school levels that they believe their parents and trust their parents the most. Before the age of 12, children usually cling on to every word their parents say, and if mommy and daddy say it's important to be grateful to their community, be compassionate towards others, and give back to help others and show their gratitude, they'll believe it. As they say, old habits are hard to break, especially if you've been practicing them since you were in elementary school! So then, by high school, they are already familiar with compassion and gratefulness, and therefore will not hesitate do continue doing community service. Also, they will be doing it for the right reasons. If they were to only do it to make their resume look good, then they'd grow up learning to only perform acts of kindness and gratitude if they were to gain something out of it. Instead, you want them to grow up with kind, loving, and giving hearts. No one wants their kids to achieve success at the expense of losing their morals. You want them to have good character, so that besides having financial stability and the career of their choice, they also have a network of dear friends and family that love them and like to spend time with them, because in the end, cold hearted people are alone until they learn to love.
Teach your children to love at a young age. Get them to volunteer when they are young so that it becomes a practice that they'll learn to do as they grow older. Also, only good can come out of your child doing community service at any age. Nothing bad would come out of it. It wouldn't harm them in any way, or deter them from their education like hanging out with the wrong friends would. In the end, the more people care, regardless of what age they are, the better the community turns out to be. If young people learn to love others, it rubs off on their friends too, and there would less acts of selfishness. We'd see less cases of youth crimes in our newspaper, and more stories of selfless acts from people that, from a young age, learned to care for one another.