Apr 27, 2017

Community Service Ideas & How Kids Can Help

Volunteering in our community as children and extending kindness to others is a fundamental part of developing these habits later in life.  Most often, children learn these habits from their parents – but let’s be honest; sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day to even squeeze in a shower – let alone preparing a meal for a homeless person.  Also, sometimes funds are tight and we don’t always have the extra to give.  Even if you pre-plan by selecting one day a year to complete a community service project, and select one that’s free, it’s absolutely better than doing nothing. 

My Mother is one of the most selfless persons I know and I feel so enriched and blessed to witness those characteristics while I was being raised. I’m sad to say that I haven’t done well enough carrying that on and teaching it to my children – but this is something we are changing this summer!  Every year during the holidays, my parents would donate a meal to a needy family.  I remember this one particular year, where my Mom (who was a single mother, raising two children by herself for many years) felt down about the fact that she didn’t have enough money to donate a meal for Easter of that year. She sat down with my sister and me, who were about 8 and 10 years old, and asked us to make a choice.  We could either have an Easter dinner for ourselves, or we could skip out this year and provide one to another family instead.  My sister and I chose to gift a meal to another family.  Our Mom honored this choice.  When we went shopping to pick up the ingredients, our family was blessed with so many clearance items and BOGO sales that we were able to provide the meal for another family and our own, with money left over to spare.  Additionally, the bakery gifted us an extra bunny cake that they made by mistake.  I will never forget that Easter, as I still vividly remember it 20-some years later and think back on it with a smile.  I learned that when you do things selflessly for others, the good fortune comes back to you in return.

So, what kinds of things can we do to help in our communities – and how can our kids help?

TEN WAYS your child can participate in community service

Organize a food drive
Your child can create a flyer or message to distribute to family, friends, and neighbors asking for non-perishable food items to be donated to your local food bank.  Allowing them to design the flyer and lead the food drive allows them to use their leadership skills and creative ideas to help their community. 

Grab bags
Your child can create grab bags with little toys, activities, and necessities (socks, hair accessories) to donate to a homeless shelter or domestic violence shelter where children are accepted for housing.

Visiting the elderly
Select a day to visit a senior-citizen home to play games and read with residents.

Clothing drive
Much like the food drive, your child can organize a clothing drive with friends and family to donate to a shelter or the salvation army.

Your child can volunteer to help a neighbor with their yard work, mowing the lawn, clearing trash – or whatever activity is age-appropriate for them. 

Clean up a park day
Select a date and invite friends and family to join in for a park cleanup day!  Have a contest for whoever fills up their garbage bag the quickest.  Don’t forget gloves and safety training for what’s safe to pick up and what they should ask an adult's help for!

Donate a meal
Think of a needy family in your community, someone that is ill or maybe someone that recently had a baby.  Your child can help you cook and deliver a meal to help that family during this part of their lives.  Alternatively, you can check with local soup kitchens to see if your child is able to volunteer to make and serve a meal.

Donate toys
Empower your child to select his/her own grouping of toys that they no longer play with and donate it to a child in need of some new toys to play with.

Share some love with an animal
Call around to local animal rescues and shelters and volunteer to help feed or care for the animals, or take them for a walk/playtime.

Help build a home
Habitat for Humanity has opportunities for volunteers of all ages – call your local chapter and see how you can help!

What community service traditions do you and your family have?  What kinds of random acts of kindness have been done for you, or that you have done for others?  Share some ideas! 

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