25 Community Service Ideas for Youth Groups

youth group community service volunteeringOne of the most important things a church youth group can do is help teens live out their faith in practical ways. If you're looking for ways to get your youth group serving the community, try one of these 25 service project ideas. 

At Church 

  1. Spread Cheer - Create holiday or get-well-soon cards for pediatric patients at your local children's hospital. This is easy to set aside time to do during a regular youth group meeting.
  2. Serve Lunch - Have students cook and sell lunch to church members after a Sunday service to raise money for a charity or mission trip. They'll learn a lot about working together!
  3. Wrap Gifts - If your church has a program during the holidays to give gifts to kids in need, such as a toy drive, your youth group can help shop for and wrap the gifts! Genius Tip: Get tips to organize a successful Angel Tree project.
  4. Host a Car Wash - Set aside a Saturday morning in your church parking lot to raise money for a good cause. Schedule adult and student volunteers with a sign up. Include a suggested donation price as part of your marketing efforts.
  5. Plan a Beautification Project - Take a spring afternoon to plant flowers and weed the landscaping of your church. Go a step further by setting up a community garden on church grounds and donating produce to a local food bank. Genius Tip: Organize a summer watering schedule with a sign up.
  6. Thank First Responders - Adopt a local precinct, fire station or hospital department. Write thank-you notes to local police officers, firefighters or nurses in your community. Plan a monthly service day where you drop off treats and care packages for your adopted team.
  1. Tutor Students - Start a club after church on Sunday or Wednesday nights where younger members of the congregation can get help with their homework, as well as learn from older role models. Genius Tip: Organize your tutoring schedule with a sign up.
  2. Have a Cleanup Day - Clean out and organize the church library and donate books the church no longer wants to a local school or library.
  3. Be Welcoming - Pack "Welcome to Our City" kits with gift cards, maps and notes for refugee or immigrant families that are new to your city.
  4. Donate Supplies - Pack backpacks with school supplies and donate them to at-risk schools in your area. This event can be as small or as large as you can imagine. Genius Tip: See how this Kansas City church gives back to the community by organizing an annual school supply store with SignUpGenius for teachers at low-income schools.

Organize a community service day over a holiday break. SAMPLE

In the Community 

  1. Show Your Talent - Put on a talent show for a local nursing home or retirement community. Afterward, set aside time for students to talk to residents and spend quality time with them.
  2. Pack a Meal - Organize a morning to pack lunches or blessing bags and deliver them to homeless shelters in your city. Pair this with a donation drive for hygiene items to make an even bigger difference.
  3. Do Chores - Help aging church or community members complete chores around their house and yard. Rake leaves during the fall, clean homes during any season or clean up debris and plant flowers during spring. Make sure to deliver a meal or two when you stop by.
  4. Host a Spa Day - You can plan this day of pampering for a number of different audiences: aging community members, single moms, refugees or the homeless, for example. You can paint nails, style hair and even do makeup.
  5. Provide Childcare - Promote a free childcare day for single parents in your area. They can drop off their kids for an afternoon and run errands — or just take a nap!
  6. Help a Teacher - Ask local schools how you can assist teachers during the summer. Many teachers love help reorganizing their classrooms and cleaning during the summer months.
  7. Visit the Sick - As long as rules permit, visit church or community members in the hospital or hospice. Prepare a song or read books out loud to patients.
  8. Plan a Service Day - Have your youth group take the lead on a big church project. Plan a day of service with multiple locations and projects. Students can pick causes that are important to them, whether it's packing meals for the homeless or cleaning up a local school.
  9. Provide Moving Muscle - Help a local family in need that has to move. Students can carry boxes, furniture and even help unpack. While you're at it, see if you can gather donations from your congregation and provide items the family still might need.
  10. Hold a Character Breakfast - Plan a fun morning for at-risk kids. Youth group members can dress as popular cartoon characters and entertain kids with stories, crafts and games.

Coordinate a youth group service trip outing with a sign up. SAMPLE

Ongoing Projects 

  1. Start a Club - Approach a local elementary school about forming a free after-school club where children can read to your students to practice their skills. Other ideas include starting a math, robotics or running club.
  2. Organize a Meal Schedule - Instead of delivering meals occasionally, make your student group in charge of a larger church project like delivering weekly meals to the homebound in your community or new parents. This way, youth will form lasting relationships and take on extra responsibility. Genius Tip: Organize meal schedules easily with online sign ups.
  3. Sponsor a Child - Raise offering money as a youth group to sponsor a child through Compassion International or another organization. You can write letters to them and read updates to your youth group.
  4. Coach a Team - Have your students coach (or become assistant coaches) for a sports team at a local school or recreation league. They'll impact the lives of local kids and have a great time. Genius Tip: Get started with these 10 signs of a good coach.
  5. Help Animals - Go to a local animal shelter every week and volunteer. Youth group members will get to play with and walk the animals — and even clean cages.
With one of these projects, you'll give back to the community and youth group members will learn a lot about service! 

Kayla Rutledge is a college student who spends most of her time writing, singing for her church and eating quesadillas.