Just came across this post on first-ever volunteer experiences and it sent me into my way-back machine. My first experience was similar to @Brianne Haxton's: In 8th grade, our religion class had to go sing for the nursing home residents near our school. Note that I deliberately used the words "had to go sing." The service was imposed on us; I didn't choose it on my own and I'm certain I wouldn't have done it or wanted to do it otherwise, probably like a lot of kids.
And although being kind and helpful was part of my upbringing, volunteering and service were not, at least not in the sense of going out of our way to do something for others (non-family members) in a selfless fashion. My sisters and I never had to help at a food pantry or otherwise participate in any type of service with our parents, as it seems @Alison Randall and Brianne did.
And yet, when I look back, both my parents did volunteer work. My mother was a PTA member at our school, working in the lunch room or library, and my father was a long-time board member of Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities. They gave back to their community, but they didn't require or overtly instill in my sisters and me the need to do the same. It's probably a generational thing. They were the Silent Generation, and what an apt moniker: Do your work and don't talk about anything. While I believe actions speak louder than words, I also feel drawing children into the conversation enhances those actions and is more productive in the long term. I made it/make it a part of the conversation with my kids, though that hasn't exactly turned them into community activists! (And that's a post for another day!)
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