Tips for Family Volunteering in Des Moines


In a world filled with “stuff”, toys, shoes, clothing, trinkets and knick-knacks, it can be difficult to clear the clutter and show our kids how to truly be selfless. Volunteering with our children is a great way to show them all aspects of life and that some people may not be as fortunate to have what others are extremely lucky to experience every day.

Meals from the Heartland Family Volunteering Des Moines
Des Moines Moms Blog Contributor, Christine, volunteered with her family & friends at Meals for the Heartland.

As a mom, who has worked in various aspects of the nonprofit community, I fully understand the vital nature of individuals giving time. Most organizations are in need of volunteers. That’s being said, I also understand what truly makes a great volunteer. I can appreciate that not all organizations have family-friendly volunteer opportunities, and I respect their decision.

Let’s talk about what makes a great volunteer and some organizations that offer family volunteer opportunities.

What makes a good volunteer:

Organizations create volunteer opportunities with the intention that volunteers will help them full fill their mission, whatever that may be. Did you know that most organizations rely on volunteers to productivity complete tasks so they can save money on hiring paid staff? A great volunteer, for any organization, is truly passionate about the mission and work being done. They arrive on time and ready to work. ultimately they make the staff’s job easier by taking on some of their overflowing plates. So, how can we include our children, even the younger ones?

As mentioned above, sometimes organizations will not have volunteer opportunities for young children due to safety, liability, or staff reasons. If you check with an organization about their rules, respect their decision and don’t get discouraged; continue looking for a great volunteer opportunity that is a great fit for your family.

I reached out to Amy Croll, Executive Director for Community Youth Concepts about family volunteer opportunities within our community. Here are just a few options. Always check with the organization on their most up-to-date volunteer opportunities and requirements.

Family Volunteering in Des Moines

Community Youth Concepts thrives on the work of volunteers. Whether you are a youth or an adult, they are sure to have an opportunity that fits your skill set, or they will connect you with an organization that does.

Dance Without Limits provides a dance program for children and young adults with special needs who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the joy of dance. Volunteers, with or without dance experience, ages 12 and up, are needed to partner with Dance Without Limits students.

Hope Ministries provides services that offer safe shelter, nutritious meals, free clothing, and more. Their long-term life recovery programs are meant to break the cycles of homelessness, abuse, addiction, incarceration, and chronic poverty. Every day they are meeting the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of men, women, and children.

Meals from the Heartland is made up of volunteers from businesses, schools, churches, community organizations and beyond who package meals for delivery to malnourished people in Iowa, across the United States and around the world.

The Salvation Army provides a large variety of services throughout the community. Volunteers are needed to perform many tasks, including bell ringing during the holiday season.

family volunteering

Of course, getting involved in your community does not only mean “doing something.” It could be starting a discussion with your children on purging gently used toys and clothing to be donated to a child who would love to have them. Or picking up a few extra items at the grocery store and delivering them to your local food pantry. Whatever your family decides to do, the impact will be important!

This is just a small glimpse of ways to help within our community; there are many more opportunities to help as a family.

What is your family’s favorite volunteer activity?

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Stacie is an Iowa native, living in Urbandale with her tall, dark, and handsome husband, Kyle (May 2014). They share their home with the lights of their life, their son, Calvin (August 2015), and daughter Sylvia (April 2019). They have a dog, Heidi, a cat, Frankie, and a Beta fish, JoJo. By day, Stacie is the Director of Development for Animal Lifeline of Iowa. By night, she’s a kid-chaser, Pinterest-recipe chef, Instant-Pot meal creator, thrift-shop find make-over artist, DIY project amateur who enjoys reading, hanging out with her family...along with an occasional girls’ night out.


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