Parents do not always know the influence they are having on young children.  But Sara Holtz (an active Volunteers for Change member, a Volunteer Fairfax Community Ambassador, a member of Waples Mill Elementary School *STAMP program, and an alumna of the Peace Corps) discovered recently that her son David was indeed watching and learning.

Last year, David was a 4th grade student at Waples Mill Elementary.  One day his teacher asked students to write about their favorite family traditions.  To the delight and surprise of mom, Sara, David wrote about their family tradition of volunteering…specifically, their annual participation in Volunteer Fairfax’s Give Together event held each year on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service.

Here is what David wrote:

“For Martin Luther King Day my brother, my sister, my mom, Mr. Duffy, other Waples Mill students and families, and I volunteer. We go to the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax. We’ve been going for three years. 2015 will be our fourth year. My mom volunteers with Volunteer Fairfax and learned about it in 2012 so we participated. She is on the STAMP committee and now it is an annual STAMP event. Last year we made cards for soldiers and made snack bags for families at Ronald McDonald House.”

David, now 10 years old, said “it wasn’t hard” to pick this volunteering as a family-favorite tradition. He recalls several Give Together activities that he and his family have done but his favorite was making the tissue paper flowers for the senior community “because the flowers were so colorful.”

The Holtz family is active in many civic activities. Boy Scouts. Girl Scouts.  And, when the family goes on hikes, they take plastic bags for cleanup, part of the seven principles of Leave No Trace ( They encourage others to do the same.

David’s family tradition goes beyond his mother’s example. When Sara was young, her parents were dedicated to service.  Research supports findings that raising children who perform volunteer service will most often result in continued service as an adult.

Make volunteering a part of your family traditions! Your reward will be children who value service and a better community for all.  There are several ways to locate opportunities:  1) Visit the Directory of Youth Service Opportunities. 2) Sign up for a Family Friendly volunteer event such as Give Together. 3) Visit www.volunteerfairfax.organd click on VolunteerNow which is a fast and easy way to connect to service.