Family-Friendly Volunteer Opportunities

(This is an excerpt from Philanthropy Does a Family Good; originally published in PLAYGROUND Magazine’s Winter 2008 issue)

It’s time to get your family out into the community for a hands-on, site-based volunteer experience. We are very excited about this dynamic Central Florida volunteer resource: Hands On Orlando

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Written by Cris Phillips-Georg

Hands On Orlando takes all the stress out of finding family-friendly volunteer opportunities. This organization is a unique nonprofit that plans, manages and leads a ton of one-time volunteer opportunities each month, serving a broad range of local charities. Each project only takes about three hours to complete and Hands On Orlando provides all of the materials and tools needed to get each task done, at no charge to the volunteer or to the agency receiving assistance. (Translation: That means you can connect to multiple charities through this one organization, and they set up the volunteer opportunities. Sweet!)

Though Hands On Orlando welcomes volunteers of all ages, they are particularly passionate about engaging families in community service and only take on volunteer projects that welcome youth of an appropriate age. Each opportunity is hands-on and short-term, making this an ideal solution for families with sporadic schedules who still want to make a real impact.

What we love most about Hands On Orlando is that they are equally focused on volunteers having a positive experience as they are on local charities receiving support. That means that you are greeted with a smile and provided with a thorough orientation before you begin your assignment. Hands On Orlando makes each experience fun (they even provide snacks), and they never fail to help you and your children make a clear connection between the task you are completing and the powerful way it will benefit the cause.

Ready to lend a helping hand? Visit and peruse the current volunteer calendar to find a volunteer opportunity that fits the interests and ages of your family (minimum ages vary per project0. Then email your commitment via the online form or contact Executive Director Chris Allen at 407-740-8652 for more information. Hands On Orlando will let you know exactly what you’ll need for your specific volunteer assignments.

“Unless someone like you cares an awful whole lot.
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

~ Dr. Suess, The Lorax


  1. Charities need support all year long. Make volunteering a year-long resolution, rather than a one-time holiday event. Many non-profits are inundated with volunteer requests between November and December, but hear nothing but crickets the rest of the year. Remember, need has no season.
  2. Good neighbors make strong communities. While helping the stranger across town, don’t forget the neighbor next door. Is there a single mom who needs help with her lawn? And elderly neighbor who needs a friendly visit? A resident i crisis who would appreciate a home-cooked meal? Even a smile can make a positive difference.
  3. Set your family up for success. Developing a service ethic takes time. Children (and adults) can sometimes be fearful or find it hard to relate to the people they are trying to help. Talk about what you m right encounter before volunteering. Get the conversation started by reading Chicken Soup for Little Souls: the Braids Girl by Lisa McCourt and Tim Ludwig. This charming picture book (appropriate for ages 4-9) is a great reminder that what people need most is not money, but respect and compassion.
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