Many parents like you want to build in their children the value of giving back, doing good and making the world a better place. No matter how young or far apart in age your kids are, volunteering and doing good works for those in need are great family-building activities.

Even if your child is very young, the goodness is sure to rub off on them. The Washington Post spoke with an early childhood expert who stated that kids come with “a natural tendency to enjoy giving to others, which starts with empathy and compassion.”

As parents and caregivers, you can create and provide these opportunities for giving and helping. It will create a sense of gratitude for what they have. It also builds empathy and compassion, which are qualities that can help cultivate decent humans.

If you’re in that giving spirit, here are a few ideas and activities you can do as a family to make the world a better place.

Pick up litter: Make a fun family outing of it! Bring three-gallon buckets, trash bags, rubber gloves and spend a morning cleaning up trash at your favorite park. Of course, when the hard work is done, be sure and celebrate with a special picnic (and admire how great the park looks).

Volunteer for worthy causes: It may appear there’s a shortage of volunteer opportunities for youngsters, especially if you are a parent of young children. But with a willingness to pick up the phone and make inquiries, you may find the perfect fit for you and your family is closer than you think! Young kids may not be able to, say, serve meals at the soup kitchen. But they may be able to set the table, hand out fliers and greet people.

Even if you have them ride along as you deliver meals or take people in need to their appointments, they can still feel like they’re involved and helping.

If you’re stumped, call local organizations, describe the ages of the people in your family and they may be ready with more than one age-appropriate idea.

Seek out honorary grandparents: If your neighborhood has elderly residents who are having trouble getting around, take time to get to know them and include them in family dinners or volunteer to help with yardwork. Another option is to call your local nursing home or senior residence. The volunteer coordinator can match your family with a resident in need of friendship.

Beyond volunteering, another way to make kids aware of their power to become a force of good in the world is to cultivate a spirit of giving. One fun and family-building way to do this is by creating care packages at home and then delivering them to the organization of your choice.

Try one of these ideas for building care packages, or come up with your own.

  • Design kindness bags for kids in crisis situations.
  • Create chemo care kits for children and teens.
  • Collect and donate stuffed animals that first responders can give to children in crises.
  • Gather pet food and toys for an animal shelter.
  • Build birthday bags for children in need. Each can contain birthday cake mix, balloons, streamers and a special gift.
  • Appreciation baskets for first responders, such as your local police station, fire department or even national guard. These can be filled with homemade treats, a thank-you sign and gift cards.
  • Set aside gently used, outgrown books and toys and donate these to preschool centers or homeless shelters. Your children will feel good that their once cherished items will go for the betterment of another child.
  • During grocery shopping trips, purchase extra non-perishable items that can be donated to the local food pantry.

Another idea: Take the care package idea one step further and build your child’s next birthday party or friend gathering around building a big batch. Set up an e-invite, post the list of needed supplies and let the guests indicate which they are willing to bring.

More kindness is always needed in the world. Tap into your child’s natural tendencies and work as a family to make your community a better place!