Ultimate Guide to Service Projects for Kids: Part 3

Welcome to the third and final post in the series: The Ultimate Guide to Service Projects for Kids.

 

If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here:

 

And now, on to the main reason I began this series:  to find service projects that even toddlers can do!  Below you will find a variety of fun service projects that kids of all ages can participate in.  These activities are sure to instill a lifelong love of giving.

 

The Ultimate LIST of Service Projects for Kids

 

Service Projects to Do with Your Kids

 

20 Service Projects For Kids:

 

  1.  Set up creative fundraising ideas. One of my very favorite simple service ideas recently was done by Miriam with Little Hands Can.
    • She called it “Date Night for a Cause.”  Her family chose a charity (in their case it was Hurricane Maria relief efforts), planned a fun party for the kids, and put an event post up on Facebook stating that parents could drop their kids off for a period of time and pay what they would normally pay a babysitter.  They held the party at their house and all proceeds were donated to the charity of their choice.  The parents had a date night, the kids had fun with activities, games, food, and friends, and the money was used to support people in Puerto Rico.  Awesome idea!
    • Read about this fun service project on the Little Hands Can Simple Service Blog.
  2. Make Bags for the Homeless or Help at the Local Shelter. Homelessness is something our kids see every day, and it is important to try to approach this issue with kindness and compassion.  Obviously, safety is always a priority when it comes to teaching our children about strangers, and many of us fear unpredictable behavior that may come with mental illness or substance abuse.  Deep inside, we know that they are people, just like we are, but often our experiences and biases shape our perceptions.  The best we can do is to try to see life from others’ perspectives, teach our children to see all people as people, and to get to know others from diverse backgrounds.
    • One way to help the homeless community is to fill a gallon Ziploc bag with supplies and hand them out to individuals or donate these items to a local homeless shelter, depending on your level of comfort.
      • Examples of what to include in the bags:
        • chapstick, tissues, toothbrush and toothpaste, comb, soap, trail mix, granola bars, crackers, a pack of gum, band-aids, mouthwash, coins, hand wipes, warm pair of socks, and maybe a Starbucks gift card.
        • You can even put in a note of encouragement.
  3. Help Your Neighbors.  For example, your kids can
    • help put garbage cans out by the curb or haul them back to the house.
    • pull weeds/do other yard work.
    • carry groceries inside.
  4. Have your children do chores to raise money for their own canned food drive.
    • For every chore your child completes, they earn around $1.00 (or the value of a can of food at the grocery store).
    • After they’ve raised a set amount, they go to the store with you to pick out canned goods to donate.
    • Finally, go to your local food pantry and donate the cans!
  5. Write a letter to our servicemen and women.  Operation Gratitude sends care packages to Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, or First Responders to thank them for their service to our country.  Your kids can easily make letters to include in these packages.
  6. In the fall, host a Halloween Candy Give Back Drive.  Operation Gratitude also sends candy in every care package to our troops and first responders.
    • Collect all of the Halloween Candy people don’t need and send it in.
    • Or, sign up to host a candy drive, and Operation Gratitude will send you anything you need to advertise, promote, and complete your drive.
  7. Make a donation. Your kids can
    • choose clothing they’ve outgrown to donate.
    • pick out toys they would like to give a child in need.
    • donate books to the local library or children’s hospital.
    • take cat or dog toys or food to the local animal shelter.
  8. Volunteer at the local animal shelter.
    • Make dog treats and deliver them.
    • Donate supplies.
    • Our local Greenhill Humane Society has a read to cats program where children age 6 and older can spend time with the cats and simultaneously practice their reading skills.  It promotes compassion, animal-savvy behavior, and gives the cats positive time with people.
  9. Plant a Tree.  We have a local organization called Friends of Trees, and they have tree plantings many Saturday mornings between November and April.
    • Check out their events page to find a time to help. Families with children of all ages are welcome!
  10. Help grow, maintain, or harvest a garden.
    • For those of you local to Eugene, the GrassRoots Garden behind St. Thomas’ Preschool on Coburg Road grows fresh nutritious food for distribution through Food For Lane County.  They provide meaningful opportunities for all ages.
    • If you’re interested in helping them with your children, you can find more information and contact them through Food for Lane County’s volunteer page.
  11. Have your child help prepare a meal and/or care package for a family member or friend who has recently suffered a loss, illness, had a baby, or just needs some extra help.
  12. Complete a random acts of kindness challenge.  Each day complete a new act of kindness for others.
  13. Create thank you gifts/cards for community workers (the garbage/recycling workers, fire department, police officers, or the UPS, FedEx, or mail carriers).
  14. Do one of the many family volunteer projects for Meals on Wheels.
    • Buy and decorate oven mitts for delivery drivers.
    • Create greeting or birthday cards.
    • Make placemats.
    • Decorate lunch bags.
    • Create no-sew fleece blankets.
    • Craft greeting or birthday cards.
    • Throw a birthday party to benefit Meals on Wheels
    • Deliver Meals
  15. Have your child do a “Secret Service” Activity.  I found this idea on the Melissa and Doug website, and it is absolutely adorable.  They have free printables, ideas for service, and a cute blog post about this fun way to get kids excited about small acts of service and kindness.
    • Give the kids an envelope that has their “Secret Mission” inside.
    • Give them a “Mission Possible” letter that outlines the goal and service for the day.
    • Print out secret service mission ideas and attach to their service form. Most of them are very simple, such as “wash the dishes,” “clean up your toys,” “make a card for someone we need to thank,” etc.
    • Print out “calling cards.”
    • The kids can leave their card behind after they’ve completed their mission.
  16. Spend time at the local retirement home/ memory care facility.
    • A local service organization in Eugene called Little Hands Can has a weekly “Happy Helpers” event at a memory care facility. Children ages 0-6 do simple service projects with the residents. The projects range from making cards for the Eugene Mission to decorating placemats for Meals on Wheels.
    • Take small gifts or games to play.
    • Take a bag of books and read with the residents.
  17. Make a donation to the World Wildlife Fund and participate in their Symbolic Species Adoption.
    • In this program, your child can choose an animal to “adopt” from a list of endangered species.  Depending on the donation, you receive an adoption certificate, stuffed animal, and an information card that tells you more about the animal adopted.
    • Your donation supports the WWF efforts all over the world, and your child is able to see what types of animals can be helped by the donation.
  18. Pick up trash at a local park or in your neighborhood.  Such a simple way to help make your community cleaner, and to help the environment.
  19. Host a service playdate.  On the Coffee Cups and Crayons Blog, Megan writes about a super-hero themed food drive playdate called Hunger Heroes.
    • All of the kids who came to the playdate brought a few non-perishable food items to donate.  All of the children wore superhero capes and got Superhero badges.  Such a cute idea, and a really simple (and fun) way to contribute to the food bank (or any organization of your choice).
  20. Have a service birthday party.  The key here is to still make it a traditional birthday party with the service aspect mixed in.  Service can be fun and a great addition to a celebration!  Some things to consider when hosting a service birthday party:
    1. Talk to your child about his or her expectations for presents. Maybe your child still receives gifts, but there is another aspect of the party involving giving to others.  Or, consider asking guests to bring donations in lieu of gifts.  This is definitely a difficult one with young kids, but if you talk about it ahead of time and map out your child’s expectations, it can be a wonderful experience.  You could also have a party where no one has to bring anything at all.  The service is just built into the party.
    2. Come up with a theme based on the child’s interests:  Superheroes, Animals,  Art, etc.
    3. Brainstorm service ideas that could tie into the theme. For example,
      • If your child loves Superheroes, you could refer to #19 for the Hunger Heroes idea (which could also be a fun theme for a birthday party).
      • If animals, dogs, cats, etc. are your theme, maybe it could be a party focused on helping the animal shelter.
      • If your child wants an art-themed party, you could make cards for military servicemen or do one of the many art-based projects for Meals on Wheels.
    4. Host the party with games, food, and all of the typical birthday party elements.  And, there will be the added bonus of helping others.
    5. After the party, either as a group or just with your child, drop off the items donated and/or made.

 

This will be an ever-evolving list, so I will update it as I compile more ideas.  Remember that service doesn’t have to be extremely time-consuming or elaborate to still be meaningful.  Any little bit of kindness goes a very long way.  And, even little helpers can make a huge impact on others.  

 

Service projects for kids

 

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for sharing.  Thank you for investing in a kinder, better future: our kids!  They are the ones who will change the world.  Happy Helping.

 

Much love,

 

look for little helpers

 

 

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