Today I dropped off my oldest two children at church where they will be staying for the week. Preschool kids all the way to high school will spend the week serving our community (don’t worry–only the oldest children will be spending the night). My family has participated in this event called SERVE for the past 7 years. It has affected me tremendously as I have been able to see first-hand how easy it is to make a difference just by doing small things. This week also allows our kids to do some big things too— like roof houses, tear down walls and remodel, paint, organize food, be a buddy to kids during Backyard Bible clubs and more. See those vans in the picture below? Those are just some of the vehicles that will transport our kids around our city this week.
In my ACTS of Service post from last week, many people shared what they have done to serve others. Several readers commented that though they really wanted to do a service-related project with their family, they just were unsure where to start. I remember feeling that way too–not knowing who to ask, what organization needed help, and how to reach out. After working with my church for SERVE, I realized that the hardest step is starting. 🙂 Here are some service project ideas that you might be able to do in your community:
1. Volunteer at your local food pantry.
2. Sort items at your local recycling center.
3. Walk dogs at your local animal shelter.
4. Pick up trash along trails as you hike.
5. Visit a local nursing home. Not sure what to do while you are there? You can:
- play an instrument
- sing a song
- paint the residents’ nails and give hand massages (seriously our kids have done this and the residents love it!)
- host a BINGO game
- create cards or a craft and hand out to the residents
- play board games with them
- plant a garden for them
- just talk to them and listen to their stories
6. Pull weeds for a neighbor.
7. Make hygiene bags (wash cloth, soap, plus other personal hygiene items) and give them to your local homeless shelter.
8. Bake cookies for your neighbors.
9. Clean your church. Sanitize nursery toys. Wash crib sheets, blankets, and towels.
10. Offer to clean your local gas station’s bathrooms. Bring your video camera to capture the stunned look on their manager’s face.
11. Make cards and send them to those serving our country.
12. Host a free car wash.
13. Organize an Operation Christmas Child Party.
14. Make exam kits for college students (perfect if you live in a college town.)
15. If you have a local organization that collects donated items, volunteer to help sort and shelve the items.
16. Host a craft camp for kids in your neighborhood.
17. If you’re crafty, make blankets, bibs, and hats for your local crisis pregnancy center. If you can’t sew like me, organize a diaper drive.
18. Clean up a park.
19. Help a preschool teacher laminate items, cut out crafts, organize toys etc.
20. Make a meal for a shut-in, a new mom, or a friend in need.
21. Collect non-perishable items for your local food bank. Encourage your friends to donate too.
Do you have any other service ideas or tips to share?
Laila @OnlyLaila says
I love all of these ideas. I’ve been looking for things to do with my son since he’s too young to volunteer at some sites.
What an inspiring list of service project ideas! We have enjoyed volunteering at the local nursing home as you mentioned above.
Also, my daughters and I did “12 in 12” during 2012. We did 12 different service projects each month for 12 months. Here’s a link to some of the articles I wrote on my blog about what we did: http://harvestmoonbyhand.blogspot.com/search/label/12%20in%2012 . Perhaps it will give others some more ideas about service projects.
My mother being a single mom taught my sister and I that when we were in need there were services or kind acts that helped us out. Therefore, every time we had a little extra we were to pay it forward to someone else who was in need.
When it came to changing out winter clothes to summer clothes or vice versa we were to separate clothes that didn’t fit or we didn’t wear anymore so that they would be donated and the same with toys.
Another volunteer opportunity that is great is visiting kids on the pediatric floor. Some of them are alone because their parents have to work. Depending on the hospital you can visit them. Or even stay with them while the parents have a break.
To go along with the nursing home volunteer, my mother’s church goes every other Sunday to a nursing home and does a short service for some residents. The church also provides them with a meal. On their birthdays they get them a gift and sing happy birthday. They also celebrate holidays with them.
In the winter, I have been involved in a coat drive where we collected coats and gave them out in a poor neighborhood with hot chocolate. Something similar can be done in the summer but with cold water bottles.
Sorry this post is so long. Volunteering is a huge part of my life. I love it!
Maureen Spell says
Thank you for even more suggestions! I especially love the idea of sending birthday cards to nursing home residents when it is their birthday. It sounds like you have a wonderful mom who taught you the gift of serving!