Family Service Projects That Involve Kids
Finding family service projects that allow children of all ages to participate can be difficult. Yet, getting kids involved in charitable activities at a young age is a critical component in raising giving children.
In a previous post, we identified 10 ways to pay it forward as a family. Examples of family service projects included providing gently used books to the library and giving "blessing bags" to the homeless shelter. (You can see the full list here.) This post not only shares ways for kids to give back, but also provides tips for raising giving, charitable children and ways to tap into the organizations that will allow them to volunteer.
Tips for Involving Kids in Family Service Projects
When planning your family service projects, follow these tips with your children and watch how they come alive through the giving process:
- Choose family service projects that tap into their talents, passion, and interests.
- Give them leadership opportunities by putting them in charge of either an entire project or one piece of a larger project.
- Involve them as much as possible to help them be as invested as possible.
- Don't require them to participate if they don't feel comfortable.
4 Family Service Projects for Kids of All Ages
Don't let an organizations' age limits or other restrictions hold back you back when it comes to involving all of your kids, even the youngest ones, in family service projects.
Organize a food drive. One in six Americans faces hunger. Your family can make a difference. Set a goal as a family to get a specific amount of canned food donations from family, friends, neighbors, and in your community. Together, create and pass out flyers, set up bins and collect the food, and make plans for delivering it to or having it picked up by your local food bank. While the donations are coming in, pick up boxes from your local food bank and decorate them. The food you donate as part of your family service projects can be used for anyone in need and the boxes you decorate will be used by the food bank to deliver food boxes to the elderly. Find your local food bank via FeedingAmerica.org.
Tip 1: Most food banks do not allow children under 12 to volunteer onsite. That said, check with your local food bank and if your children are within their approved age range, identify one of the many ways to serve onsite and take advantage of that as a family.
Tip 2: Food banks not only accept canned food, they accept and are often in dire need of gallons of milk. Learn more about the current Milk Drive going on and how you can help.
- Volunteer at Your Local Ronald McDonald House. Did you know that families with children of all ages can volunteer together by making a meal big enough to serve the home's temporary residents? This is a huge service as the families staying at Ronald McDonald Houses are more than 60 miles away from home, often are burdened with huge medical bills, and are exhausted and emotional from the care and concern for a seriously ill family member who is staying at a nearby hospital. They are so grateful to the volunteers who make it possible for them to eat a "home cooked" meal with other residents. To do family service projects at RMHC, you must bring the food, prepare it in the kitchen there, serve the meal allowing families a window of time to eat, and then clean up.
Tip: Ronald McDonald House Charities is often in need of other donations, like personal care products, blankets, etc. Call or check online before you go and consider enhancing your service by donating some of the items they are in need of.
- Regularly visit the elderly. Every community has assisted living facilities and/or nursing homes. The elderly often spend many hours of their day without visitors. Your family can provided a much needed visit, putting smiles on the faces of many. To volunteer with the elderly as your long-term and ongoing family service projects, identify a time that works for all of you and dedicate 1-2 hours a week to visiting the seniors in your community.
Tip: Involve your children by having them create a calendar of events, identifying different things you can do at each visit. Mix things up by doing some of the following: providing handmade cards and gifts, performing talents (like singing or playing musical instruments), playing games, etc.
- Take care of the animals. Many children have a passion for helping animals. And many animals need their love. Finding shelters that allow children under the ages of 16-18 can be as simple as doing an online search. I quickly Googled and found multiple listings in my community for places that would allow kids of any age to volunteer with parental guidance. The following tasks are some that you could consider for family service projects involving animals: animal socialization (playing with the animals, brushing them, curling up with them) and community outreach (taking them out of the shelter and for visits at nursing homes and animal supply stores like Petco.
How to Find Volunteer Opportunities in Your Community
Don't know where to begin when it comes to finding organizations that may have needs or those that may allow family service projects involving children? Here are a few sites that can help:
- Volunteer Match. Shares available opportunities in your community with brief details and organization contact information
- Feeding America. Connects you with the local food bank in your area
- Love Animals. Identify ways to donate to help animals near and far.
With these tips and resources, you are in perfect shape to begin your family service project and help instill in your children a love of service.
For more ideas, check out our 10 tips to raising giving, charitable children.