Family giving opportunities


Family giving opportunities

Kind hearts are the gardens,

Kind thoughts are the roots,

Kind words are the blossoms,

Kind deeds are the fruits.

-19th century rhyme used in primary schools


You teach your child how to tie his shoe, ride a bike, do long division.  But how do you teach empathy? To care, not just about the people they know, but for the community and the world?


Your child’s kindness begins with you. Show your child how to be kind: Be a volunteer. This is a great way to spend quality time together and do something positive as a family. Volunteering also provides an opportunity for parents and older siblings to be role models.


Call a family meeting. Explain to your children how the family can make a difference and impact the world around them.  Just as they are responsible for helping out in the family and caring for each other, they have the same responsibility as members of the community. Give some suggestions for volunteering, and ask the kids what interests them.


Here is a list of volunteer possibilities to consider: 



Metroparent Milwaukee Area:

Ronald McDonald House: Provides a home away from home for families with children getting treatment at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. You can host a party, holiday activity, craft project or prepare a meal for the children and families who are staying at the Ronald McDonald House. Ronald McDonald House Charities, 8948 Watertown Plank Rd., Wauwatosa. (414) 475-5333,


Wisconsin Humane Society: If you're a kid and you love animals, there are a variety of purr-fect ways for kids to get involved with helping animals.The whole family can help!  Wisconsin Humane Society, Milwaukee Campus 4500 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. (414) 264-6257,


Locks of Love: This is an idea for family members willing to grow hair at least ten inches and then donate it! Locks of Love provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.


Care Packages for the Homeless: Area homeless shelters would welcome any contributions. Many have websites that list their needs. Take the family to a dollar store. Let the kids help choose items to go into a shoebox: shampoo, deodorant, soap, toothpaste, socks …

For a list of area homeless shelters:


Kathy’s House: This is a hospital hospitality house that serves patients of all ages and their families. Guests at the house often sit on the patio to enjoy the gardens after a long day at the hospital. The spring season will offer an opportunity to do planting and landscaping. Kathy's House, 600 N. 103rd St., Milwaukee. (414) 453-8290,


Good Neighbor Project Interfaith: recruits volunteers to help older adults living in their own homes in Milwaukee County. Volunteers are matched with clients who live as close to them as possible, to do outdoor chores such as raking and snow shoveling. Volunteers will need to provide their own transportation and must be physically able to do the work. Interfaith Older Adult programs, 600 W. Virginia Ave., Ste 300, Milwaukee. 414-220-8650,


Catholic Charities: In the spring and summer, Catholic Charities could use some help sprucing up the garden and shrubs at its offices. No special skills are required, other than an enjoyment of the outdoors. We welcome you once a month, once a week, or even on a one-time basis. Bringing your own tools would be a great help! Ages 8 and up must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. 2021 N. 60th St., Milwaukee. (414) 769-3400,



The Milwaukee Women’s Center’s Emergency Shelter: Is dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic violence, abuse and addiction. The shelter is looking for people to help supply toys, games and craft items for the many children who come to the shelter. The wish list includes: Baby toys (mobiles, rattles, push-n-pull, soft books),  Pop up toys for 1-3 year old, Dolls (African American, Asian, Indian), Balls (Nerf footballs, smaller basketballs, any balls except baseballs/hard ball), Puzzles for kids of all ages, Books for all ages (featuring African American and other ethnic groups would be greatly appreciated), Any children's movies, DVD or VHS, Action figures, Matchbox cars/hot wheels, Games, Lincoln Logs, Play-Doh and utensils, Blunt edge scissors for 4- to 5-year-olds, Coloring books, Markers, Colored pencils, Electric pencil sharpener. (414) 270-2970,


The Robyn’s Nest: (Sponsored by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin Community Services) provides families with free gently used and new clothing, toiletries, diapers and baby items, toys and books, school supplies and general household items. Volunteers can host product drives for items such as diapers, undergarments, gift cards, and hygiene items. Contact: Laura Goba, 620 S. 76th St. Ste 120, Milwaukee. (414) 231-4871,


Brookfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Care: Volunteers are needed to help transport residents to and from entertainment within the facility on Saturday afternoons. Come enjoy the entertainment and build meaningful relationships! This opportunity is available to families. Volunteers are needed every Saturday from 1:30-3:30pm. 18740 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield. Contact: Sara Hubertz, Volunteer Coordinator, (262) 782-0230,


The Books for Kids Program at Next Door Foundation: Host a book drive. We accept gently used and new books that are age appropriate for preschool and kindergarten, multicultural children. Sixty-one percent of the children in low-income families have no books in their home. Your help can make a difference. 2545 N. 29th St., Milwaukee. Contact Person: Sunny Peete, Administrative Assistant, (414) 562-2929 ext. 145,


The Youth & Family Development Program (YFDP): Host a health & hygiene products drive for youth. "Casey Kits" for our youth are shower totes filled with basic bathroom essentials that most youth and families cannot afford on their own. Items such as toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, deodorant, mouthwash, etc. are appreciated.  4041 N. Richards St., Milwaukee. Contact: Jenny Gryniewicz (414) 906-2818,


Pet Therapy Sponsored by Gentiva Hospice: Do you have a special four-legged friend? We are looking for volunteers to bring that special friend to a patient's home and provide hospice patients with that special companionship they often miss. After completing our hospice volunteer training course, you will visit patients in their homes (may also be a skilled nursing facility) with your pet, providing companionship and friendly visits. 10150 W. National Ave., Ste 200, 

West Allis. (414) 546-3200,


Milwaukee Make a Difference Day Sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Greater Milwaukee: Join hundreds of volunteers who help older adults prepare for the winter months by raking leaves, cleaning windows, clearing gardens, putting up storm windows and other small projects. All it takes is 4 hours of your time on one Autumn Saturday. Perfect volunteer opportunity for families and youth groups. Debbie Knepke, Corporate And Events Manager, (414) 273-7887,


Clement Manor: The Activity Department is looking for volunteers to help gather elderly residents, assist with games and distribute prizes. Volunteers will need to walk extensively, push residents in wheelchairs and interact with residents. 3939 S. 92nd St., Greenfield. (414)-546-7386,


New Threads of Hope: Experience the joy of providing needy families and individuals with new shirts and slacks, boots and jackets--new items many of them may never have had before. 

We need volunteers to help sort and process clothes donated by many generous organizations. 

Volunteers must be at least 13-years-old and accompanied by an adult. 3001 N. 112th Street

Wauwatosa. Contact: Tom Williams, Director Of Volunteer Services, (414) 443-0060, 


HOPE Network for Single Mothers: Organize a supply drive in your neighborhood for used items to be distributed to families in need at the Northwest Trading Post in Menomonee Falls. Items especially needed are infant and children's clothing, strollers, high chairs and other baby equipment, books and toys. The Post can also use adult clothing, bedding, and housewares. Located at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, W156 N8131 Pilgrim Rd., Menomonee Falls. (262) 251-7333,


Park People Fall Weed-Out: During the fall months, we remove woody invasive plants such as buckthorn and Asian honeysuckle by cutting them with saws and lopping shears. Weed-Out events normally take place on Saturday mornings during the months of September, October and November in various Milwaukee County Parks. Teens under 17 must be accompanied by an adult. (414) 273-7275,


Pan-African Community Association (PACA): School Supply Drive for African Refugees.  Our after-school program serves between 15 and 30 refugee and immigrant children and teens each day. We would really benefit from each student having items like calculators, writing utensils, dictionaries and more! Any support for their learning would go a long way and be greatly appreciated. 4063 N. 64th St., Milwaukee, (414) 442-5864, 


Milwaukee Christian Center: Any amount of nonperishable food items will gladly be accepted and distributed through our Emergency Food Pantry. A food drive can be conducted at any time throughout the year. 807 S. 14th St., Milwaukee. Contact: Bernadette Arellano, Volunteer Coordinator, (414) 645-5350 Ext 118,


Project Concern: We are a food and clothing pantry for the low income residents of Cudahy and St. Francis. We are always looking for help with food sorting and distribution on the first Saturday of every month. Nativity of the Lord Parish,(Lower Level), Corner of Plankinton and Kirkwood Ave., Cudahy. (414) 774-0645,


Jewish Family Services: Older Adults Love a Concert!

Do you like to perform? Are you part of a group that plays music or sings songs? Share your musical talents at a one-time, weekday music or song performance for older adult residents at an east side apartment complex. Volunteers should be able to put on a minimum 30 to 40-minute performance appropriate for older adults, many of whom are Russian speaking. 1300 N. Jackson St., Milwaukee. (414) 225-1390,


Great American Cleanup: Takes place in the spring. Choose any day to help clean up a neighborhood, park, or river! Make a difference in your community by volunteering in this clean-up effort happening nationwide! You may choose your own clean up site or join with someone else. It's up to you! Clean up supplies are provided. Volunteers will also receive "Thank You" coupons for participating! This is a great opportunity for families, children with adult supervision (those under 16). Sponsored by Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful.


The Milwaukee Bike Collective: Bicycle Repair Youth Days are every Saturday from 

noon to 2 p.m. for youth ages 9-15 to work one-on-one with experienced MBC volunteers, either learning to repair their bicycle or building a bicycle if they do not already own one. Youth volunteers agree to help with projects and chores needed to maintain the Bike Collective equal to the amount of time they spend on their project. For example, a youth who spends 30 minutes repairing a flat tire could then help by patching a tire for one of the bicycles the Bike Collective intends to distribute. Further, a youth who spends eight hours building a bicycle for herself will have been spending 1 1/2 hours working on his bike and 1 1/2 hours working on a project for the Bike Collective each session for a total of 16 hours work. This process of encouraging “sweat equity” instills the value of the dollar in youth volunteers as well as the value in supporting production beyond their own consumption.  2930 W. Clybourn St., Milwaukee. (414) 431-0825,


Kyle’s Korner: Our mission is to provide a warm, welcoming and safe place where grieving families' retreat, meet, heal and prosper with the guidance of specially trained bereavement volunteer facilitators. Volunteers would prepare a meal for 24 people and deliver it to Kyle's Korner before 5:30 on the event date. 7106 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa. Contact: Linda Linscott, (414) 777-1585,


Adopt a Beach-Lake Michigan: Volunteers (adopters) commit to multiple visits per year and use Alliance for the Great Lakes' forms to collect data: Give the beach a good look, collect litter, recycle or dispose of it properly. Check the water using a simple test, investigate bacteria levels in the water. Participants enter information into the Alliance's online data base.

We typically hold trainings in Spring and Fall. Go to our website for training sessions. 1845 N Farwell., Milwaukee. Contact: Todd Brennan.


Brookfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Care: We have a great group of people who love to play bingo. Come and help out; be the callers, help manage the cards, or hand out the great prizes on Wednesdays at 2:00pm or Saturdays at 1:30. Requirements; Volunteers must be a minimum age of 12-years-old. 18740 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield. Contact: Sara Hubertz, Volunteer Coordinator, (262) 782-0230,


Brookfield Rehabilitation and Specialty Care:Volunteers are needed to assist residents in getting to and from a sing-along that occurs Thursdays on the second floor. Assist in passing out rhythm instruments and join us in song! If you play a musical instrument, share your talent! Volunteers must be a minimum of 18-years-old, however families are welcome. 18740 W Bluemound Rd, Brookfield. Contact: Sara Hubertz, Volunteer Coordinator, (262) 782-0230,


Metroparent West Area:

The Caring Place: Enjoy entertaining? The seniors at our adult day center would enjoy you sharing your talents with entertainment like music, magic acts, travelogues, demonstrations or any other types of entertainment suitable for seniors. This opportunity is available Monday thru Friday, 10:30 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity for families. Sue Banski, Activity Coordinator, 810 N East Ave. Waukesha. (262) 542-6388,


Angel Tree Donation: Angel Tree program allows you to purchase a gift for a single child or children from a financially challenged family during the holidays. Beginning in November, Angel Tags are available at the Salvation Army and contain information about a new gift item desired by a child. Purchase the gift and return it to the Salvation Army. Contact: Phil Hanson, Volunteer Coordinator, 445 Madison St., Waukesha.


The Women's Center of Waukesha: Like to bake? Want to brighten someone's day? Provide treats for the women and children attending support groups as well as families staying in the shelter. Monday-Fridays, times vary but please call for more information! All baked goods must have ingredients listed due to possible food allergies. Contact: Mary Akers, 505 N. East Ave., Waukesha.


Salvation Army: Please help us serve a community meal. Contact us to schedule a time for yourself, your family or your small group to help serve. Volunteers are needed on Tuesdays, Thursdays or Saturdays from 4-6 p.m. Call to see how you can sign up online. Requirements: No open toed shoes, proper dress and hygiene, a great attitude!  

445 Madison St., Waukesha. Contact: Phil Hanson, Volunteer Coordinator, (262) 547-7367,


Hebron House of Hospitality:  For just over 30 years, the Hebron House of Hospitality has been the largest nonprofit provider of services to the homeless men, women and children in Waukesha County. On average, the agency serves over 2,000 people a year. That means providing food, clothing, shelter and other related services to care for those who need help the most. Volunteers can donate food and household items, make a meal or volunteer their time. 111 E Main Street, Waukesha, (262) 549-8722,


The Volunteers of Lake Country (VLC) partner with the Christmas Clearing Council (CCC) of Waukesha to provide presents for struggling families this holiday. Community members can donate cash or toys, sponsor a child or volunteer at Santa’s Toy Shop. Visit or for more information.


Interfaith Senior Programs: Be a friendly visitor! Make a new friend while you fill the void in the life of a homebound senior or adult with a disability in Waukesha County. Have fun making friendly visits - play cards, take a walk, or just visit for a while. Volunteers are asked to commit to an hour per week and can coordinate times and dates directly with the client.

Spring Kreitlow, Program Coordinator, (262) 522-2407,


Elmbrook Humane Society: If you like to interact with people and share your love of shelter animals, you might be interested in taking our adoptable dogs to local pet stores on the weekends for adoption events. You'll show off one of our fabulous dogs for a two-hour shift once or twice a month. Volunteers need to be either 18 years of age or at least 12 years of age and accompanied by a parent or guardian. You must be comfortable handling and transporting a dog and you must be people-friendly! 


Volunteers are needed to foster animals from our shelter in their homes throughout the year. Start up Supplies are provided. Foster homes are especially needed for kittens that need feeding and/or shy dogs that need socialization. Training and support is provided by our staff.

20950 Enterprise Ave., Brookfield. Contact: Kelly Jarvey, Volunteer Coordinator,


Adaptive Community Approach Program: Get outside and enjoy the weather while helping the environment! During the Spring, Summer or Fall, you can assist individuals with disabilities to clean up the Waukesha Bike Trail. Volunteer to help others volunteer! You are needed for a few hours between 9:00am-3:00pm Monday through Friday, scheduling is flexible. Volunteers must be a minimum of 14 years old. 121 Wisconsin Ave., Waukesha. Contact: Beth Gessert, Volunteer Manager.


Richard’s Place, Inc.: This is a nurturing home for people with AIDS. Do you like to walk outside and keep in shape? Richard's Place is looking for a few volunteers to walk with residents on a daily basis. If you aren't able to volunteer everyday, one day would be great too. This way our residents get to know even more wonderful people!  Waukesha. Contact: 

Joana Hemschemeyer, Program Coordinator,


Waukesha County Park/Trail Clean Up: We are looking for volunteers to be the foot patrol of designated parkland areas for pick-up and removal of litter. Many park and trail locations are available throughout the County. Dates and times are flexible, according to your schedule. Volunteers ages 5 and up are welcome with adult supervision. Volunteers must have the physical ability to walk on trails and rough terrain and wear work gloves, weather appropriate attire, and closed toed shoes. 515 W. Moreland Blvd., Rm AC230, Waukesha. Contact: Holly Glainyk, Park Program Specialist.



Metroparent South Area:

River Bend Nature Center: The center welcomes all kinds of volunteers, even families with small children. Volunteer as a Habit Healer, pulling invasive weeds and maintaining the trails. Special events need help with set-up, clean-up and food prep. 3600 N. Green Bay Road, Racine. (262) 639-1515,


Becker Shoop Center: Nursing home facility has opportunities for families and small groups to volunteer. Teach and play Wii with seniors, bring your pet to visit, read to a senior, lead Bingo, and much more.  6101 16th St., Racine. Contact: Diane Olmstead (262) 898-2772.


Gentiva Hospice: Are you able to give 1-4 hours per month of your time? We are seeking Pet Therapy Volunteers to visit Hospice patients, which may include nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Many of our patients would love the opportunity to visit with your pet for comfort, companionship, reminiscing, or for a non-judgemental ear! Positions are available throughout Walworth, Racine, and Kenosha Counties and times are flexible. Must have certification or be willing to obtain certification. Gentiva Hospice can help achieve certification. 197 Chestnut,

Burlington. Contact: Ann Cook.


Marion Housing Center: We are looking for volunteers to organize and lead a monthly game event for our interested seniors. Card games, board games, Bingo, Wii games - you name it! Come and play games with our residents! 4105 Spring St., Racine. Contact: Jo Ann Rodriguez, Program Coordinator. (262) 633-5719.


The Racine Urban Garden Network: We are working to establish additional community gardens throughout the city. Currently, we have 4 public community gardens and over 270 plots. 

We need volunteers every season except winter to help keep our gardens beautiful. We will be weeding, moving compost to plots, planting, spreading mulch on paths and harvesting. 

Must be able to bend and pull weeds, rake and shovel dirt. Wear appropriate clothes and shoes.

Families welcome. 2113 N. Wisconsin St., Racine. Amy Macemon, Volunteer Coordinator.


Wisconsin Humane Society-Racine Campus: Foster parents open their homes and hearts to animals who need them now more than ever. They provide a home environment for healing and growth that a shelter cannot duplicate. 2706 Chicory Rd., Racine. Contact: Liz Driss, Volunteer Coordinator.


Bay Pointe at the Atrium (Lincoln Lutheran): Instrumentalists, vocalists and musical groups are invited to perform for residents of communities. Volunteers must be caring, compassionate, patient, comfortable with older adults and enjoy spending time with them.

1 hour as scheduled and available. Must be 14 years or older. 3950 N. Main St., Racine. Contact: Julie Schneider, Resident Program Leader. 




* The above volunteer opportunities and many more can be found at:

  • The Volunteer Center Program of the non-profit Center of  Milwaukee: A clearinghouse to connect volunteers with nonprofit agencies and organizations that need their services. 2819 Highland Ave. (414) 273-7887,   Contact: Debbie Knepke
  • The Volunteer Center of Racine County: Offices in Western Village, 6216 Washington Ave., Ste G, Racine. (262) 886-9612,
  • United Way Volunteer Center of Waukesha County: 1717 Paramount Dr., Waukesha. (262) 547-8459



Many charitable groups require children be at least 13 to volunteer, but here are family project ideas that can involve younger kids:

1) Declutter your house and organize a rummage sale together. The kids can also have a lemonade stand. Proceeds go to a charity or cause the family chooses.

2) Team up as a family to participate in a run/walk for charity.

3) Help a neighbor in need together. Wash their car, rake or shovel, paint, babysit  â€¦ 

4) Volunteer together at Special Olympics or some other non-profit event.

5) Bake some treats and make some cards and deliver them together to a local firehouse or police station! Nice way to say “Thanks for being there!”

6) Or donate some gently loved stuffed animals to the fire department so rescue workers can pass on to kids in an emergency situation

7) Send a care package to a soldier overseas. is one idea. 

8) Visit a nursing home together to help deliver magazines or books to residents or just to provide some welcome company. 

9) Volunteer as a family to foster a dog or cat for a rescue group until a permanent home is found. 

10) Serve food together at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. 

11) Head to a local park or walk your neighborhood and pick up trash together. 

12) Throw a holiday party and ask guests to bring a gift to donate to a shelter. Have your child make invitations. Deliver the gifts to the shelter together.




Family fun runs and bike rides for charity throughout the year:

(Check out : for a list of races in Wisconsin. However, not all listed on website benefit a charity or non-profit.)


1) UPFA Ride for the Arts: 5-Mile Family Route: Riders roll through downtown Milwaukee and Veterans Park. Typically the first weekend in June.


2) Briggs & Al’s Walk for Children’s Hospital 


3) Ride on the Wild Side is the Zoological Society’s annual family bike ride event. Choose from three routes: a children’s 2.5-mile ride through the Zoo, and two distance rides (27 miles and 17 miles)


4) Samson Stomp & Romp takes place every year in January to raise money to support the animals in the Milwaukee County Zoo. Includes a 5K, 2-mile run/walk, 1-mile Romp for children and a ¼ Romp for kids.


5) Steve Cullen Heart Healthy Club Run/Walk:  8K run and a 2-mile fun run/walk. A scenic trek through Underwood Parkway in Wauwatosa.


6) Bryon’s Run for the Cure:  The Bryon Riesch Paralysis Foundation (BRPF) and Carroll University raise money and awareness for individuals with paralysis. The run/walk/roll/ is open to all.


7) Lung Cancer 5K Run and 2-Mile Walk to raise awareness and money for research.


8) Get Your Rear in Gear Milwaukee: partners  with Medical College of Wisconsin for colon cancer awareness, education and research programs. 5K Run/WAlk or Kids ½ mile Fun Run.  


9) 5K Run/Walk for Hope: Money raised supports thousands of individuals the Hope Center in Waukesha shelters, feeds and clothes.  5K Run, 3K Walk, 1 Mile Kids’ Run, 1/2/ Mile Kids’ Run


10) Dylan’s Run: A 2-mile run/walk to benefit the Autism Society of Southeastern WIsconsin. 


11) Striding for LifeStriders: A unique trail run for everyone --even the family pet. Includes a kids Run, WAlk or run with a furry friend and a Family Fun Run/Walk. LifeStriders provides equine-assisted therapy for individuals with special needs from children with autism to veterans with PTSD. Waukesha.


12) InStep Run for A Reason


13) 5K Trail Run/Walk/Roll for Zachariah’s Acres--a non-profit organization committed to making respite, recreation and nature accessible to children with special health care needs and their families.  Proceeds help to build the facilities. (


14) Jingle Bell Run/Walk--a fundraiser to fight arthritis. A fun, festive way to kick off the holiday season by helping others. You can even wear a holiday-themed costume.  5K Run or 2K Walk.


15) Stuff the Sleigh 5K Run/Walk to benefit the Racine County Food Bank. Event takes place in Downtown Racine.


16) The Ethnic Festival Fun Runs and Walks:

  • Polish Fest’s: Easter Seal’s Run With Me: 1-Mile Family Fun Walk to benefit children and adults with disabilities. 
  • German Fest’s Capuchin’s 5-Mile Run and 2-Mile Walk to feed the hungry
  • Irish Fest: Arthritis Foundation Run/Walk 
  • Mexican Fiesta’s 2-Mile Walk and Run for charity
  • Indian Summer: 5K-Run/Walk for Autism























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