MLK Jr. Day of Service offers volunteer opportunities

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WASHOE COUNTY, Nev. (KOLO) -- It's a perfect day for four-year-old Ryder Olson as he gets to dig around in the dirt with his mom. They're at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park looking for bugs to help Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation identify species and clean up as part of its annual MLK Day of Service Bioblitz.

"He loves being outside," says Sarah Olson, Ryder's mom. "He loves bugs so this is right up his alley, so he loves it."

They're having fun volunteering, but they're also doing important work. Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation hosts this event every year on the National Day of Service as a way to get families involved. Sarah Olson says organized events like this help her teach her son about helping others.

"They're important to give back to the community and help out in ways that some people wouldn't normally thin of and then it's also good because you can spend time with your family," says Olson.

It's also an experience that can leave an impression long after the day is done. Especially if it becomes a regular thing during childhood.

"Individuals who start volunteering young tend to stay volunteering," says Amber Martin-Jahn, Executive Director of Nevada Volunteers. "It definitely becomes part of who you are."

Over at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, kids of all ages are helping out on this day. About 300 people are packing up produce in the warehouse to distribute to families.

"Volunteering is a great family activity," says Martin-Jahn. "It's a way to introduce your kids to things that you value and have conversations about. If you're volunteering at the Food Bank, ask 'Why is this important?' It's quality family time and all of us who are professionals struggle with how to find that balance and volunteering is a fun way to do it.

Back at Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Park, parents are hoping this Day of Service turns into a lifetime of serving others.

"I just hope it inspires him to just keep giving back and volunteering and giving back when he can and keep checking out our local parks," says Sarah Olson.

Nevada Volunteers can help individuals find plenty of volunteer opportunities right here in the community and organizations that could use help. For information, click here.