Volunteering with kids is easy when you encourage your child to snuggle up with a furry friend and share a book, reading at your local ARF (Animal Rescue Foundation).
On a sunny Saturday morning, the children each grabbed a book and headed for the car.
Our mission was simple… to read to cats.
I know that sounds strange but this is just another way we are teaching our kids about volunteering.
The night before, I was texting with a friend and told her that I would be busy because the kids were volunteering to read to cats.
Her reply was hilarious.
Speechless over here.
Or rather WHAT IN THE HE**?
Obviously, I had some explaining to do but the concept is very simple.
ARF reading program volunteers
The ARF Reading Program is a literacy initiative that encourages children to read to the animals awaiting permanent homes.
The interaction benefits the child and the animal.
When a child is hesitant to read out loud, you may not know the difficulties he is experiencing.
“I’ll just read in my head, Mom,” can mean the child is not completely confident in his ability to pronounce words. But, when you seat him with a furry friend and he starts to read…
The cat starts to rub against the book and purr.
He reaches out his hand to stroke the cat and relaxes. The words come off the pages of his book more easily.
Cats do not critique your intonation. They do not correct you when you fail to pause for punctuation. Instead, they curl up beside you and nudge your hand as if to say, “You are doing a purr-fect job.”
But the child is also learning an important lesson about serving the community by volunteering.
Animal shelter donations
On the morning of our volunteer project, our first stop was Walmart because ARF always accepts donations and the children had $100 to spend on gifts for the cats.
We headed to the pet supplies with a list in hand.
Items to donate to your local animal rescue include:
- Gift Cards (Lowes/Home Depot, Walmart/Target, Amazon)
- Paper towels
- Floor cleaning solutions (Fabuloso, Mr. Clean, Pine Sol, etc.)
- All-purpose spray cleaner
- Trash bags (kitchen and large outdoor size)
- Reusable spray bottles
- Dishwashing liquid soap
- Sponges and scrub brushes
- Clorox wipes
- Lysol disinfectant spray
- Brooms and dustpans
- Towels, all size (new or used)
- Kitty Litter – clumping type, unscented, any brand
- Fleece blankets (new or used)
- Wire kennels – all sizes (new or used)
- Dog toys – especially Nylabones, Kongs and other tough toys
- Cat toys – including scratching posts and fun games
- Leash – especially slip lead type
- Dog and cat beds – especially Kurunda elevated type
- Puppy pads
- Pooper scoopers
- Dog & Cat Shampoo and grooming supplies
- Peanut Butter (creamy)
- Dog or Cat treats (any brand, type)
- Plastic disposable spoons
- Fish oil
- Gauze and other bandages
- Exam gloves
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Cotton swabs and cotton pads
- Dog ear cleaning solution
- Black permanent markers
- Sticky notes
- Copy paper
- Dry erase markers
- Envelopes (business size)
- Zip ties (large size)
- Box fans, oscillating fans
- Plastic totes with lids – all sizes
- Toilet paper
- Kiddie pools
Reading to cats at ARF
When we arrived, the children were eager to begin reading with their new friends.
I must admit… some of the cats were a little anxious when my boisterous brood charged in the door, but that was nothing a little catnip in their pockets couldn’t correct.
I sprinkled catnip on the existing cat toys around the room and on the new gifts we brought.
The cats LOVED it and warmed up to us easily.
Almost too easily.
The children started asking if we could take a kitten home. Unfortunately, the director would not allow it since we let our cats go outside during the day.
I never thought of myself as an unfit pet parent before.
So, we settled on agreeing to return soon for more reading to the cats at ARF. Perhaps even play with the dogs.
Perhaps next time, we will even play with the dogs because they need af-FUR-mation too.
Volunteering with kids is fun!
Volunteering with Kids
Has your family ever volunteered at an animal rescue organization?
There are many ways to volunteer at an animal rescue center like such as helping on adoption days and at outdoor events, fundraising, grooming, dog walking, and humane education.
Children under the age of 16 years must be accompanied by a parent, but that doesn’t take much persuasion in our house.
More service projects for families
Looking for more ideas to help your family volunteer in your community?
- Check out these 5 easy ways to grow children who serve.
- Create Homeless Blessing Bags to hand out in your community.
- Find 30 project ideas for teaching your children to serve.
- Share a Coke with neighbors on a hot day.
- Thank the people in your life who do Extra.