Families can get involved through donation drives or volunteering at the shelter.

This monthly feature focuses on volunteer opportunities for Central Ohio families.

Most children love animals, so it stands to reason that Columbus Humane is a popular destination for parents looking to instill the value of volunteerism in their children.

Columbus Humane, formerly the Capital Area Humane Society, was founded in 1883. At that time, it also served as a children's welfare organization, said Kerry Shaw, director of development and communications.

Today, the nonprofit has volunteer opportunities for children 12 and older. “They can come and go through our STEPS [Skills Training, Engagement and Practice for Success] program with their parents,” Shaw said. After completing the STEPS training, which includes 16 instructional hours and a mentoring component, volunteers can walk dogs or perform enrichment activities with cats. “It's not the same as handling your animal at home,” Shaw said. Kids younger than 16 can't hold the leash, but can walk dogs alongside a parent.

Shaw said younger children can get involved by holding a donation drive, in which supplies for the shelter are requested in lieu of birthday or holiday gifts. Kids can also hold a drive in their neighborhood or school. Classroom and Scout groups help out at the shelter by assembling dog treats and disposable litter boxes.

Volunteer opportunities are expected to grow after a facility renovation wraps up in October. Last year, Columbus Humane had 484 active volunteers who logged 33,788 hours of service. It was honored in March as one of 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2018 by The Columbus Foundation.

Volunteering helps children become “aware of circumstances above and beyond their own,” Shaw said. “There are animals out there that aren't as fortunate that we have to take care of.”

For more information, go to cahs-pets.org or call 614-777-7387.