Community Service Ideas for Kids
Teaching kids about the importance of community service doesn't just expand their world view, it also teaches empathy, empowers them with responsibility, and might just remind them to be grateful for what they have. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, kids that volunteer are 50% less likely to abuse drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. So gather up your family and tackle some of these community service ideas for kids.
1. Volunteer at a Local Food Bank
Local food banks have a variety of needs, from collecting and organizing donations, to sorting produce and creating snack packs to send home with students so that they have a meal in the evenings. Our local food bank, Harvesters, offers volunteer opportunities for ages 8 and up to sort and repack, work at food drives, and be a part of mobile food pantries.
2. Contact a Community Outreach Program
Community outreach programs work with a variety of people in more than a variety of ways. From food assistance, to providing clothing and furniture needs, to transitioning homeless into stable homes, community outreach programs offer a multitude of volunteer opportunities. A favorite outreach program in the Kansas City area is Cross-Lines. Cross-Lines allows children with their parents to tend the community garden, organize the thrift store, or pack the elderly food assistance program.
3. Find a HeadStart Program
HeadStart provides comprehensive education to low-income children and their families from birth to age 5. One of the most common services they offer is a preschool education. Preschool teachers need volunteers to prep materials and assist in the classroom. This is a great way for elementary aged children to mentor younger students and have a positive impact on their lives at an early age.
4. Provide a Meal or Cookies
Many community service programs offer meal service. Frequently, these programs will ask for sandwiches, soup, or even cookies. These simple foods can be made at home as a family and delivered to the groups distributing the meals. Whether you are Catholic, another denomination, or agnostic, Catholic Charities offers a wide variety of meal programs that are easy for kids of all ages to participate in. My children love the Summer Food Program where they get to serve lunch at the local library. They also enjoy making three dozen cookies once a month for the homeless.
5. Get Crafty
What kid doesn't love to craft? And what parent doesn't wait until bed time to recycle said creations? Put their creativity to good use and have them craft for the elderly or organizations that collect cards and creations for distribution with deliveries. Our local Meals on Wheels group collects crafts as tray decorations. Our local food back collects cards for their food boxes they distribute to food insecure seniors. You could also deliver cards to your local nursing home or hospital.
6. Host a Drive
Food, clothing, the basics, school supplies, or financial - organizations of all types need donations year round. What better way to show your kids the reach community service can have than hosting a drive? Collecting the items at your home or place of work will show them just how one person or family can have a huge impact.
More Resources To Find Community Service Ideas for Kids
Finding community service opportunities for your family is easier than ever. Jump online and find how you can support your local food bank, community outreach programs, or other organizations. Online directories are an easy way to find service requests all in one place.
JustServe helps you discover service projects in your area by zip code and radius. It lists a variety of projects and ongoing needs with descriptions of volunteer requirements.
The corporation for National and Community Service offers a search by geography for service opportunities of all types. From visiting with people in Hospice to packing meals for people in Africa, your family will surely find a project that is right for your family.
Yes, They Are Spoiled
So many times, I have said the words "my kids are so spoiled". And... let's face it. They are. In fact, the majority of people my family interacts with on a regular basis are in a similar boat. Yet still, we hear the chimes of "it's not fair" or "I'm bored" creep out of their lips, leaving us shocked and disappointed that they could be so ungrateful for what they have while others appear to be so satisfied with so much less. One great way to show them just how lucky they are is to sign up for service projects. Nothing is ever an instant fix, but over time, asking our children and ourselves to give back will build empathy, compassion, and gratitude.