This post is in partnership with GenerationOn.org.

Over the past few years as the kids have gotten older, we have looked for volunteer opportunities to do as a family without much success.  When we made phone calls to local facilities we were told all volunteers needed to be 18 or 21 years old.  

When we recently learned about Family Volunteer Day, we were all so excited.  Family Volunteer Day is a global day of service created to encourage families to volunteer together in support of their neighborhoods and communities -- not only on the day of the event, but also throughout the holiday season and every day during the year.  GenerationOn.org is a fantastic resource for ways to get the entire family involved with helping others in your community.  You can filter volunteer opportunities by age and cost so really EVERYONE can be involved.

diy cat toys

We sat down as a family and discussed how we wanted to give back and the kids had an overwhelming response - they wanted to help animals.  Done.  On GenerationOn.org there are various suggestions of what you can do to help animals in local shelters.  We planned to bring dog treats to all of the dogs at our local animal shelter but when I called to see how many animals were currently being housed, I got an interesting response.  They had plenty of treats for the animals, but what they didn't have were toys for the cats.

How To Make DIY Cat Toys

After a quick search on Pinterest, we got a few ideas of easy DIY Cat Toys we could make using old t-shirts.  It was so simple, all of the kids got involved.  We cut t-shirts into 10" by 3" strips, stacked 6 pieces together and then tied them in a knot.

family volunteer day

While there was no way our 3 year old was getting his hands on sharp scissors, he could help by pulling the knots extra tight.  The thought of kitties not having any toys really stuck with him and it was about all he talked about.

family volunteer day

If you want to make your own DIY cat toys, I suggest using more of the tissue tees.  We cut up a few tees from school activities and the stiffer cotton didn't stretch as much and was a little more difficult to work with.

family volunteer day

Making dog toys seemed a little tricky because we didn't want them to get chewed up and be dangerous so we just picked up a selection of tennis balls and bones to add in to the mix.

family volunteer day
toys to donate to the animal shelter

The kids were so excited to bring the toys they made to the animal shelter.

family volunteer day

The workers took the kids back so they could hand out the toys to the cats.  

family volunteer day

The cats were all so adorable and happy to get the attention and the shelter workers loved that the toys are machine washable.

family volunteer day

While we were happy to help, we wish we could have done more to help the animals.  

family volunteer day

We promised to check in soon and be back with more toys or whatever else the shelter was in need of.  

family volunteer day

As we were leaving, we saw a ball get tossed in with one of the shelter dogs.  He was so excited to have it, it made our day and broke our hearts.  There are good lessons for kids who volunteer.  Compassion and kindness not only help those in need but it helps the volunteers self esteem, too.  Giving back helps kids feel good about themselves and brings families together.

family volunteer day

Family Volunteer Day occurs annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving; this year’s date is November 18.  Sponsored by GenerationOn and Disney, families can volunteer through local service projects in their own neighborhoods or find more than 100 DIY projects by searching on GenerationOn.  For ideas on how you and your family can give back on Family Volunteer day or any time during the year, please visit: www.generationOn.org/fvd.

How does your family volunteer?

Disclosure:  this is a sponsored post, all options are honest and my own.

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