Outside Austin’s Center for Child Protection, a group of kids and their families planted flowers and mulched flower beds. While most young children spend their Saturdays playing with friends or watching cartoons, six year old Grace Nugent was out volunteering.
“One of my favorite parts was to help and serve the community,” Nugent said.
The planting is just one of the family volunteer activities facilitated by an organization called Little Helping Hands. The group was founded in June 2009 by Marissa Vogel, a mother frustrated with the lack of volunteer opportunities for young children and families. Vogel works with over 30 partner organizations to facilitate volunteer activities for Austin families.
“The supply is plentiful here in Austin,” Vogel said. “I know I’m missing a lot. There are a lot of partner potentials out there I hope to find, and we can really give these young children the opportunity to get involved in Austin and learn the value of community service. That’s our whole mission.”
According to Vogel, Little Helping Hands averages around 19 events per month, and includes pretty much anything hands-on that kids can enjoy. In addition to Saturday’s planting activity, recent events included decorating 400 Valentines Day sugar cookies for the homeless, and doing a litter clean-up at Lady Bird Lake.
With over 400 families clamoring to be involved with the volunteer activities since 2009, the slots fill up quick. Vogel said spots are usually filled less than 48 hours after they're opened.
Lynne Nugent, who planted flowers Saturday with her four year old son and six year old daughter, said she loves what Little Helping Hands has to offer.
“It’s kind of our addiction,” Nugent said. “Our newest addiction, we love it. Anytime we get the opportunity to serve, we love to serve.”
In hopes of inspiring more families to volunteer together, Little Helping Hands will be hosting an event March 6 with Dr. Jenny Friedman, author of The Busy Family’s Guide to Volunteering. The event will be held from 4-5 p.m. at the Covenant Presbyterian Church, and tickets can be purchased through the Little Helping Hands website.