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Asheville families with kids volunteer together

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10/16/2012 - Asheville families with kids volunteer together
by Amy Sullivan, Asheville Citizen Times

ARDEN -- For the Lowman family, it makes sense for Ally, 20, Daniel, 12, and Matthew, 9, to serve others. After all, parents Sean and Julie met through the Jackson Hole, Wyo., Jaycees, a leadership organization specializing in community service.

"After we were married and moved to North Carolina, we knew we needed to continue in the area community service," Julie Lowman said.

And continue to serve they have, all around Western North Carolina. They have worked with more than 12 organizations and service agencies over the years, including the March of Dimes, Special Olympics, Boys Scouts of America and CarePartners.

In addition to doing good for others, the Lowman children actually enjoy volunteer work.

One of daughter Ally's favorite childhood memories is watching her parents help run a breakfast where an entire street had been shut down, with batches of eggs and pancake batter mixed in giant buckets with electric drills.

Daniel loved being a part of the Mix 96.5 Christmas Extravaganza, and Matthew's favorite volunteer experience was making valentine cards for the residents of CarePartners day care.

The Lowmans believe that completing service activities as a family brings them closer together, and they admit fun is bound to happen when volunteer work requires your family to wear hairnets and plastic gloves. Thank you, MANNA FoodBank.

But where does a family interested in doing good for others find opportunities to serve? Check out these family-friendly ideas if you are considering having fun and doing good this school year.

The Rathbun Center

The Rathbun Center provides support services and lodging for patients and caregivers coming to Asheville for medical treatment.

How can families with young volunteers possibly contribute? Why not make cookies?

Recently, Masen Sherrill, 9, of Weaverville, spent an afternoon baking at the center.

"I made sugar cookies, put cream cheese icing on top, and then I put strawberries and blueberries on top of the icing," says Masen. "I made little pictures with the fruit like smiley faces, flowers, and Mickey Mouse ears. I bet the kids staying at the Rathbun Center loved the cookies."

Contact Caryl Dean at 251-0595.

Asheville Humane Society

If loving furry friends sounds fun, Asheville Humane Society has a place for your family to get involved. Although the Humane Society requires volunteers to be 18 or older to volunteer on their own, junior volunteers are welcome to work with parents after attending volunteer orientation and training sessions.

"Vol unteers have a wide variety of options to choose from here at the Adoption Center," said Heather Brennan, Asheville Humane Society's manager of community programs. "All of which can be done as a family."

She offered some examples: "Volunteers can suds up and clean dishes and laundry. They can play master chef and stuff Kong toys with food and treats for the dogs. They can interact and play with dogs, cats, puppies, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs -- whatever we have in house.

"We also have special on-site and off-site events where they can participate in the Cookie Crew (decorating treats for the animals), hand out materials, make crafts, decorate crates and rooms and more."

Contact Brannan at volunteer@ashevillehumane.org or 761-2001.

Hands on Asheville-Buncombe

Hands On Asheville-Buncombe is the volunteer program of the United Way. It is a resource for people interested in getting involved with local nonprofits. Its user-friendly website allows potential volunteers to log on and discover service opportunities based on interests, needs and availability.

In addition, Hands On offers a program called Kids Care in which parents and children volunteer together.

"Kids Care is age-appropriate volunteering," states Julie Lowman. "It is a perfect fit for my boys."

Visit handsonashevill.org/hoab_unitedway

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