Volunteering Requires Freedom of Choice
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.5 Recognize that volunteering requires freedom of choice.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark E.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.

In the early political history of this country, the goal of its leaders was to give people freedom to choose many things—where to worship, with whom to assemble, privacy, opinions, etc. It is still the goal today, but the world is not perfect. The students will find examples of loss of freedom at school, in the community or in the country and choose a way to make a contribution through volunteering or communicating.

PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period, Plus Time for a Volunteer Project

The learner will:

  • recognize and describe a loss of freedom.
  • brainstorm ways to volunteer or communicate to reduce loss of freedom.
  • choose a way to be a philanthropist and make a plan.
  • Books about volunteering opportunities—things kids can do
  • Materials will be determined by the projects students choose

Erlbach, Arlene. Kids' Volunteering Book . Lerner Publication Co., 1998. ISBN: 0822598205

Lewis, Barbara and Pamela Espeland. The Kid's Guide to Service Projects . Free Spirit Pub., 1995. ISBN: 0915793822

  1. Anticipatory Set:On the chalkboard, brainstorm the needs of the Pilgrims when they came to North America (food, shelter, etc.). Discuss how they fulfilled these needs, emphasizing hard work, working together, working for the common good and getting help from Native Americans. Talk about how there was a lot of philanthropy in the new settlement. Define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good.

  2. Ask the students how they would feel if you told them exactly how they should volunteer or exactly what they should share or give for the common good. Just as the pilgrims wanted the freedom to assemble and freedom to make choices for the common good, today, we like to have the freedom to choose how we will be philanthropists. Tell the students that you will let them choose how to be a philanthropist. Together you will brainstorm ideas, but they will make the final decision because heart-felt volunteering requires a freedom of choice.

  3. Sit in a circle on the floor so students can talk and see each others' faces. Ask the students to think about examples in the school (on the playground, in the lunchroom, in the hall, etc.) where they have seen somebody lose their freedom. Make sure the students understand that school rules and consequences aren't being challenged here. Most likely, they will come up with examples of bullying.

  4. Discuss how the person might feel. (Relate to the initiative of the Pilgrims to leave the country. Are there students who might feel like leaving the school?) Broaden the discussion to include the community and the country. Do they know of examples of unfairness? Bring into the discussion the historical lose of freedom Native Americans suffered due to European immigration and the loss of freedom they continue to experience today.

  5. Ask the students to reflect on the rights and freedoms assured through the Mayflower Compact and the First Amendment, and the Native American experience of denial of freedom.

  6. Discuss the loss of freedom by those of Middle Eastern origin or of the Muslim religion after the events of September 11, 2001.

  7. Ask the students what they can do by sharing time, talent or treasure to help someone who is feeling a loss of freedom. Analyze the opportunity costs—what they will have to give up in order to give.

  8. You may suggest some options or let the students conduct research. There are Internet sites and books with ideas of things kids can do. They may create a play or poster that teaches respect for people who are different. They may work at a soup kitchen. They may learn some problem-solving techniques to help others solve problems. They may raise and contribute money to a national organization. The students may work together, in small groups, or on their own to plan and carry out a volunteer project for the common good.

  9. Students should make a choice, make a plan, learn all the steps and procedures for carrying out their plan and carry it out. When the project is done, students should review what they have done and evaluate its success.


Have each student summarize in writing the volunteer project and evaluate its impact. Have students discuss and write about why having a choice made their service project more meaningful to them.