July 12, 2019

Get the kids out volunteering this summer, plus a new era for a community newspaper

Here are three stories to inspire you as you head into the weekend.

Find family-friendly activities to get the kids out of the house this summer. One idea: volunteer at a local nonprofit. Above, a mother and daughter pick weeds at the Native Seed Farm in Irvine, California. Photo by Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Each week, The Renewal Project shares three stories from around the country that highlight the innovative solutions people are creating in their communities. This week, we kick it off with kid-friendly activities that are also great for the community! What are the innovative ideas in your hometown? Tell us at info@therenewalproject.com.

How I spent my summer vacation: Summer break is a great time to teach kids how important it is to give back. PureWow compiled eight family-friendly ways to roll up your sleeves and get to work for your community. You’ll have to check out the article to see the entire list, but here are three ideas that caught our eye:

  • Volunteer at your local food shelter. Kids can help sort, pack, and stack food items at the local food bank. Go to Feeding America to find one in your neighborhood.
  • Read to kids. Check out your local library to see how your kids can participate in reading programs, or look into nationwide reading programs, such as Reach Out & Read, that may be looking for volunteers.
  • Support a classroom. Even though school is out for the summer, your family can support a classroom in need through DonorsChoose.org.

A community tradition on: For over a century, The Chicago Defender has chronicled the stories important to black families. This week, it printed its final edition. It’s an all too familiar headline these days for print publications—as readership and advertising revenue decline, publishers have been turning to online content exclusively. So it is at the Defender. At one time the largest African American newspaper in the country, the Defender has been an influential media voice in the African American community. The paper played a role in the Great Migration, encouraging families with tales of opportunity and success in the north. Copies of the Defender are even hanging in the Smithsonian, at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

But readers who love the Defender can still read it online at chicagodefender.com and through a daily newsletter. And if you’re in Chicago, you can take part in one of the newspaper’s most beloved annual traditions, the Bud Billiken Parade. Marching down Chicago’s South Side, the parade, named after the paper’s mascot for children, was a community celebration and a way to encourage young people to get excited about the school year. The parade will celebrate 90 years Aug. 10.

Home is with your best friend: There are few comforts for individuals living on the street. For many, their pet can be the only trace of home they know. A nonprofit in Utah helps keep these pets healthy, because they know how much these animals can mean to someone who is homeless. Street Dawg Crew‘s motto is, “when you help a pet, you help a person.” Every week, volunteers from the nonprofit visit Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City and give out leashes and dog treats. They also help educate owners about proper pet care, understanding that life on the street is hard for both animals and owners. “I have a client that comes to my house and he lives in his car with his three dogs since his wife died and left him stuck with medical bills last year,” said founder Margie Varela. “We’re not judgmental against anybody.”

Danielle Moskowitz and Margaret Myers

Danielle Moskowitz is a contributor for and Margaret Myers is the editor of The Renewal Project.