There are, I think, a couple of reasons why the kids have to do volunteer work when they are young.
I think that part of it is that the community needs the help. It seems like maybe the community does not have enough resources. It never actually says this, but it seems like it to me because they collect all the scraps after dinner and they use the kids for work.
Another reason, I think, is to help teach them to be responsible to the whole community. I think the volunteering emphasizes to them that they are necessary to the community and that they have a responsibility to be of help to the community from a young age.
But more importantly, they have the kids do volunteer work so they can figure out what the kids are good at and what they are interested in. The elders pay attention to what the kids do for their volunteer work as an indication of what they should be assigned to do once they become Twelves.
What a good question! I feel that the general attitude towards the younger generation is one of being very narcissistic. In other words, in our contemporary society, there are many things that are in place to allow us to persue fun and leisure. Accordingly, many people... and especially our younger generations...use their extra or free time to do things that are enjoyable or fun and not look outside their own "world" to find things to do that would help make their community and perhaps the world a better place.
As such, many schools and organizations make community service manditory so as to encourage young people to find the "joy" and satisfaction in helping others. In this manner, it is hoped that young people will develop a life long approach to helping others and not just live for themselves.
In the book "The Giver" voluntary work served several purposes. It taught the young responsibility and it also enabled the elders to identify the strengths in the children before assigning them to their life time job.
There are many things that are different than in our world:.
- Parental units
- A community run by elders
- Children in certain age groups all dressed alike
- Release of the elders (death by injection)
- A common school
- A government run by the elders
- Ceremonies for the ages celebrated as a whole
- December ceremony where children are assigned their future job
- Loud speakers that announce what the people are supposed to do or when someone does something wrong it addresses it
- Constant monitoring of the people
- Nurturers who cared for infants when they are born up to placement with parental units
- Children are not named by parents but in naming ceremony
- Children are not allowed to ride bikes until they are 12 years old
- Buttons are on the back of a certain age group in order to teach the children how to help each other