Children are born with incredible insight and compassion and it’s our responsibility as parents, teachers, family members and mentors to help them embrace and shape those qualities. With the right guidance, children can grow up to be powerful stewards of the earth who will inspire and create change. Children learn by doing and a key factor in helping to shape future do-ers is to get them involved at an early age.

If your kids are school-aged and you find your little ones are home with a free day or two due to snow or a holiday, there are many things that they can do to help animals, without even leaving home. These experiences will not only enable them to make a difference, but teach them valuable life lessons, as well.

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Here are six cool things your kids can do to help animals on a day off:

1. Make Things For Shelter Pets

If your kids have a knack for craftiness, let them funnel their creativity into making useful things for shelter pets. The web is full of tutorials for easy things they can make which will make a world of difference for animals waiting for their forever homes. Make a fleece mat, “Adopt Me” bandanas, t-shirt rope toys or one of a zillion other easy-to-make items.

2. Organize a Pet Food/Supplies Drive

Animal shelters and rescue organizations are in constant need of supplies — from food to toys to cleaning supplies  — and a day off from school is the perfect opportunity for your child to organize a drive to collect needed items. They can choose a nearby shelter or rescue and research the type of items that are most needed. Many organizations’ websites have “Wish Lists” right on their page. You can check to see if they have set up an Amazon Wish List, which will give your child a good idea of the types and brands of items that they prefer. After they determine what they’d like to collect, help your child make a plan as to who they will solicit for donations, how they’ll go about doing it and a deadline for collections. Let them design posters, make phone calls, send emails and spread the word however they are so inclined to. This can be a good activity for a long break, or if you only have one day, it can be a great way to jump start plans for the next weekend.

3. Sponsor a Shelter or Sanctuary Animal

If your child receives an allowance or earns an income from a part-time job, perhaps they’d be interested in sponsoring an animal at a shelter, rescue or sanctuary. A sponsorship helps to provide basic care for an animal residing with a rescue organization and many times, the home organization will send updates about the chosen animal to his/her sponsor(s) so your child can see exactly how his/her money is being used to improve the life of “their” animal.

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4. Hold a DIY Fundraiser

It may be too cold outside for a lemonade stand, but chances are your kid has an amazing talent or two. Maybe he’s a whiz in the kitchen and makes a killer batch of vegan brownies. Or, maybe your daughter can braid a friendship bracelet in record time. Let them put their talents to good use. Take advantage of a free day to work on building “inventory,” then let them sell their goods to friends, family members and trusted neighbors. They can then donate their earnings to their favorite animal-related organization.

5. Start an Animal Club 

If your child is a natural-born leader, consider helping them form an animal-centered club at their school. Since something like this may be a bit of an undertaking, they may need a little extra help from you to get the ball rolling. The Humane Society of the United States, Homeless Pets Club and  PETA all offer helpful guidelines on how to start an animal-related club at school. A day off from school can be used to research, brainstorm and plan.

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6. Look for Volunteer Opportunities

Encouraging your child to volunteer can instill in them a life-long desire to help others. Although animal shelters and organizations often place age-restrictions on volunteers, check to see if any in your area will allow a child to volunteer with parental supervision. Also be sure to check sites like Idealist, Volunteer Match and All For Good for other volunteer opportunities in your area that may be of interest to your child. Use their day off to research potential opportunities and fill out required volunteer paperwork.

Green Monsters, how are your little Green Monsters helping animals?

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Image source: Doug Brown/Flickr 

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