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My kids want to volunteer.

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My oldest 2 children(7, almost 6) have expressed an interest in volunteering at our local animal shelter. This is not a passing fancy, it's been an ongoing question for a couple of months now. While I am touched that my kids want to make a difference I'm worried about thier mental and emotional well being. Ugh, I'm grasping for the right words here. It just boils down to me not wanting them to have to face the very worst than humanity can do to it's fellow creatures. I've recently found a no kill sanctuary that takes in animals of every kind(pets, farm animals) which takes care of the euthanasia concern but raises safety concerns(from what I've read a good many of the animals are loose, which is great, but we're talking about children that weigh 50 and 40 pounds, not to mention the 4 1/2 year old that would almost certainly have to tag along)

I being over-protective? I love my children with all my heart, and want them to realize that they can make a difference I just worry that they're too young at this point. If I could please get some input from the folks that have experience with this? I do realize that them volunteering anywhere at this point would mean that I'm volunteering too, which I don't have a problem with at all. I'm torn between being so PROUD of them and being really concerned about the timing.

Either way, I know for sure I've got some great kids that will be volunteering eventually.
post #2 of 11
wow that is great that they have that intrest, but i see your point, they are pretty young, maybe if you talked to the shelter and see what they think, or maybe try and find another shelter that is more suieted for them, on any note that is something to be proud of that they even want to do this, hey what ever you decide to do i wish you luck and hope that it turns out...
post #3 of 11
Its good that your kids want to help but, I can see where the shelter might have some concerns. They could have some liability issues. These days, with everybody and his brother suing over every little thing, they might not want to take a chance, having minors working at the shelter.

I'm not saying that YOU would be apt to sue them but, they do have to look out for themselves. Their insurance company may put the kibosh, on having minors working at the shelter.
post #4 of 11
I think most shelters have a rule that you need to be over 18 to voulenteer there. But maybe they could make crafts for the shelter so sell or somethign to help that way.
post #5 of 11
Check out this website, you can look up volunteer opportunities in your areas that may allow kids http://www.volunteermatch.org/
Good Luck!
post #6 of 11
I think that there are more than just liability issues. Your children may be too young to deal with some of the harsher realities of animal shelters. I believe that they should have positive experiences at that age, based on their compassion for animals, and leave some of the more difficult issues for later.

Maybe they can help with animals that visit hospitals and nursing homes. And they could fund raise, although that doesn't put them in direct contact with the animals.

I asked my pre teen niece if she wanted to volunteer at a vet office or a shelter, because she adores animals, and she said, no, I love them all so much, I would be very upset to see them in pain like that. As my vet pointed out, you need a compassionate nature, but clinical detachment to do that kind of work.
post #7 of 11
I think that a phone call never hurt anyone. In other words, call the shelter and ask if they have anything that children that age could do. They may tell you the same thing that you have already thought of with the liability issues, but they may have a program in place that they can participate in with a waiver from you.
post #8 of 11
I agree with Heidi that you should just call them to see what they say or suggest. I would definitely take time to make sure it's a good thing for them though if they are allowed to be in the shelter. I recently started volunteering at a local shelter and even I am having a pretty hard time emotionally with many of the day to day things I've seen and had to be a part of.

It's wonderful they have showed such an interest in helping others, and I hope something works out!
post #9 of 11
It's very sweet that they would like to volunteer, but if the shelters where you are are anything like the shelters here, they won't be allowed due to liability issues like everyone said. I called 2 shelters when I was 16 and they told me not to call back until I turn 18.

The holidays are coming up. If your kids are creative, I would suggest going to Wal Mart and picking up a variety of cheap paintable wooden decorations with pictures predrawn on them. (You can get these in Santa themes, puppy/kitty themes, etc) and some acrylic paint. These are pretty easy to paint and they sell very well! Around this time of year, you should be able to get them for about 35 cents a piece (they're just thin balsa (sp?) wood type ornaments) and they only take about 10 minutes to paint. Even if the kids don't have the best coordination, these ornaments are cute with their little quirks and scribbles! I've sold them for as much as $1.50-$2 a piece, which is a considerable profit once you get the paint/supplies out of the way (which can be purchased at the dollar store). These can be sold at church bazaars, craft sales, outside the grocery store (if you have permission), etc. Then the kids can take the donation in by themselves and maybe the shelter can tell them what the money will be used for? That way the kids will be have a sense of what they are working for, but they don't really get emotionally attached.

Maybe the kids could run a food drive type thing, but for pet food? Maybe you can take them in and talk to the owners of some local shops and ask them to put up a bin for pet food donations? I don't know how much response it could get, but maybe the kids could make fliers to post around your city...I don't know if anyone would donate anything, but for a hungry kitty, a little can of food would mean a lot.
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
After a long talk with most of the adults in their lives we've reached a consensus. They are just too young to volunteer physically. There is a sanctuary nearby that allows people under 18 to volunteer, but I'm worried about their emotional well being. We'll take part in some fundraisers instead. They still get to feel like they're making a difference and I don't have to worry about them seeing just how awful people can be to animals. Whew! Thanks for the input folks!
post #11 of 11
I know I'm late jumping in here....but....the president of the shelter that I volunteer at has a daughter (about 10) that helps out by having "bake sales" at the adoption clinics. She bakes cookies in the morning, fills up a cooler with soda and water, and sells them at the adoption clinic. She doesn't do this all the time, perhaps once a month.

She doesn't see the bad side of shelters - she is at the adoption site only where the animals are healthy and adoptable. She feels really good that she can help out in her small way.

And of course her goodies sell, because 1) it's a kid making them, and 2) all money goes to the shelter.

That being said, last night at the monthly meeting, a volunteer brought her 6 young children to the meeting (couldn't find a babysitter). The younger ones broke the merchandize, ripped up the posters and made a real mess of things. So, there is such a thing as being too young to do this.
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