Habitat for Humanity is one of the most successful and well-known volunteer organizations in the world. Teams of Habitat volunteers have built over 400,000 modest, comfortable and affordable homes serving two million people [source: Habitat for Humanity]. Unfortunately, the minimum age to work on a Habitat build site is 16, so families with young children can't participate. But if you look around your neighborhood, there might be home improvement service projects right in your backyard.
Elderly people who are living alone often don't have the resources or the energy to do the types of maintenance and yard work that they used to do when they had young families of their own. If your kids already help you with your yard work -- raking leaves, planting flowers, shoveling the snowy driveway -- consider doing the same work for a neighbor. Or you might notice that a neighbor's mailbox is broken, or has a ripped screen on the front door.
Even if your children are young and aren't overly helpful, make sure they have a responsibility and feel like a member of the team. You might be surprised to see how hard they work when it's in service to someone else. Make a point to explain that we don't always do things for money or even for a "thank you." Sometimes it just feels good to help for the sake of helping.
And if you'd still like to get involved with Habitat for Humanity, the organization has activities on its Web site for kids as young as five years old. Or you can contact your local Habitat affiliate for possible opportunities in your area.
The next simple volunteer activity is perfect for a family of animal lovers.