Diving into crafts, projects and new activities with kids is fun. It exposes them to new experiences, encourages creativity and can even help them discover a new passion.
But sometimes that new passion can lead to a house overflowing with half of your local craft store's inventory. How many loaves of bread or desserts can you eat if you have a kid obsessed with baking? One can only wear so many handmade scarves and hats and, if you’re like me, you’ve got homemade drawings and cards poking out of multiple drawers.
Why not take that creativity and add in some community involvement? There are lots of ways that your aspiring baker, crafter, ball of boundless energy or party planner can enjoy an activity they love and support a worthy cause in Seattle. Below are organizations your family can connect with to allow your child to use their passion projects to support their community.
For your budding baker
If your kid became obsessed with “The Great British Baking Show” or “Nailed It!” like the rest of us and is now compelled to bake everything, check out Community Loaves. This nonprofit strives “to nurture strong communities through the connection, training and empowerment of home-based bakers to reduce hunger and promote wellness.” To meet this goal, they work with volunteer bakers (of all skill levels) across California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Volunteers bake and package bread and cookies which are given to local food banks. Volunteers are provided with two recipes — Honey Oat Sandwich Loaf and Grab ‘N Go Energy Cookies — and donations are collected twice a month at local neighborhood “hubs.” There is no required minimum donation, simply bake what you can. You can learn more about how to get involved by attending an information session.
If baking desserts is where your kid's passion lies, you’ll want to join the Sprinkle Squad (an excellent name for volunteers) today. For Goodness Cakes volunteers make and hand-deliver birthday and graduation cakes to children experiencing foster care and other youth overcoming adversity. Volunteers must be 18 to register, but they welcome younger bakers as long as they are supervised by an adult. To learn more, take the online orientation and start baking today.
The Pastry Project’s goal is to make pastry education and employment more equitable. It provides 14 weeks of free baking and pastry job skills training, soft skills practice and job placement assistance to individuals with barriers to education and employment. This excellent training opportunity is supported by Pastry Kit subscriptions. When you subscribe, you’ll receive a box each month containing non-perishable ingredients and recipe instructions. Past Pastry Kits have included ube blondies, cheesy garlic knots, milk tea scones or brown butter banana cupcakes. After you bake your monthly goodie, pick a neighbor and surprise them with a special treat.
For your crafting master
If you have a prolific artist or writer at home, this could be a truly impactful place for them to focus their skills. Love for Our Elders works to end social isolation, faced by so many in old age. On the website, you’ll find the names and a short description of elders who want to receive letters (nominated by a loved one). Simply click “I’ll write” to send them a letter. The website contains letter guidelines (no glitter, make sure it’s legible, be kind, etc.) and all the other info you will need. Encourage your kids to write some kind words, and drawings are always welcome. When you are done, take a walk together to your closest mailbox and send your letter. We bet you’ll be inspired to write more than one. If you’d like to write to seniors at a specific facility, check out the volunteer opportunities at Letters Against Isolation.
If you’d like to send a letter or drawings to someone in the military — active, reserve and veterans — check out A Million Thanks. You’ll find letter guidelines on the website and information about where to send or drop off your letters. This nonprofit started in 2004 and has sent more than 14 million letters to date.
If your child has discovered the joy of knitting or crocheting, chances are good you have a few (dozen) scarves and hats within arm’s reach. Point your fiber artist toward Knit-It-All and put those fabulous, warm creations to work in the community. Volunteers with Knit-It-All knit and crochet warm clothing items (hats, scarves, mittens and more) year-round and donate them to Solid Ground, which distributes them to people experiencing homelessness in Seattle and King County. Learn more on Solid Ground’s website, and fill out the volunteer application to get started. Note: volunteers younger than 18 will need a parent or guardian to complete and sign the youth volunteer waiver.
For your little bundle of energy
If you’ve got an always-on-the-go kid then you know any excuse to burn some energy is always a good thing. Since they are bound to be running, why not have them enter some kid races and run for a good cause? Run 2 Be Fit has lots of fun-themed 5k runs that support a variety of organizations from the Everett Animal Shelter to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to Toevember. There are lots of races that have kid fun run options. Upcoming kid runs in the Seattle area include the St. Patrick’s Day Dash kids run (March 17) and the Beat the Bunny kids dash (March 30).
Do you have a kid who loves to climb everything they can see? Give them a bag next time they scale your fruit trees and turn their climbing joy into a fruit collection expedition. City Fruit collects excess fruit from local trees and shares it with those experiencing food insecurity. Head to the website to learn more about how to harvest and donate your fruit, and what they do and do not accept.
When the sun comes out (or even when it doesn’t) kids love heading to the beach. So why not help make it a little more beautiful? Keep a few bags (and some plastic gloves) in the back of your car and have your kids collect any trash they can see for 10 minutes before playtime. Or join an organized clean-up and challenge your kids to see who can pick up the most trash.
For your party planner
Are you parenting a social butterfly who seems to be organizing slumber parties, get-togethers and movie nights every time you turn around? Teach your aspiring event planner to use their social powers and skills to do good.
Birthday Dreams is a nonprofit that provides birthday parties to kids experiencing homelessness and partners with more than 80 shelters in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It encourages kids to get involved in a variety of ways, from raising money to decorating party hats to making cards. Have your little party planner organize a time for their friends to get together to support this great organization. Learn more about ways to give and get involved on the website.
Next time your party planner wants to organize a weekend get-together, have them include some time at Food Lifeline. Groups can volunteer together to sort and organize food headed for local food banks, all while hanging out together and having fun. You will be amazed at the impact you can have in just a few hours!
No matter what activity or volunteer opportunity your child chooses to pursue, be sure to always encourage their passions and interests. Everyone can make a difference in their community!
More reasons to volunteer