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50 Community Service Ideas for Families
Giving back to the community as a family is a fantastic way to teach kids how to be generous while spending time together. Here are 50 community service opportunities for the whole family.
Raise Money and Awareness
- Collect Donations - Ask for a donation to charity instead of birthday or holiday presents. Provide the organization’s name and nonprofit status so everyone can easily give.
- Get Moving - Run in a charity 5K. Find one that’s labeled a “fun run” to make it easy and enjoyable for everyone. If you have younger children who won’t be able to run the whole race, bring a jogging stroller.
- Lemonade Stand - Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits to a cause that’s close to your family’s heart.
- Car Wash - Host a car wash at your house, business or church and donate the profits to charity.
- Pet Wash - Put on a pet wash and donate the proceeds to a local animal rescue.
- Advocate - Write a letter to your elected representatives about a cause that’s important to you, such as adding a speed bump in your neighborhood to combat speeding or prioritizing recycling in your school district.
- Bike to Work - Create posters promoting carpooling, bike riding or walking to school or work to cut down on traffic and air pollution. Post around your neighborhood and school campuses (ask permission first).
- Accessible Sports - Play in a wheelchair basketball game — or organize your own — with proceeds benefitting your favorite charity.
- Recruit Voters - Register people to vote through an organization like Rock the Vote.
Coordinate different types of women’s shelter volunteers with a sign up. View an Example
Collect Items for Those in Need
- Honor Service Men and Women - Put together letters and care packages for military members who are deployed overseas.
- Donate Toys - Have children round up their old toys to give to an orphanage.
- Clothing Drive - Organize a clothing drive where your family collects clothing from friends and neighbors to donate to the less fortunate.
- Consider Hospitals - Donate old devices, books and video games to a children’s hospital.
- Animal Shelters - Collect old sheets and towels to donate to a local animal shelter.
- Women’s Shelter - Gather old baby clothes and supplies to donate to a women’s shelter.
- Struggling Schools - At the beginning of the school year, buy extra school supplies to donate to the kids’ class for students who can’t afford it.
- Canned Food Drive - Organize a canned food drive in your neighborhood to donate to an organization that assists with disaster relief.
- Homeless Shelter - Donate old board games to a homeless shelter — and come back to play the games with the residents.
- Sports Organizations - Gather used sports equipment from your home, school or recreational center and donate to a charity like Leveling the Playing Field, which brings equipment to underprivileged communities
- Donate Blood - If you have teens 16 or older, go together as a family to give blood to a local blood center.
Schedule volunteers for a community service day with a sign up. View an Example
- Senior Centers - Take the kids to read to elderly residents at senior living facilities — the kids will sharpen their reading skills while making some cross-generational friends.
- Tech Class - Put on a free technology class where younger people teach older people to use technology like smartphones and laptops.
- Beautification - Adopt a mile of a local highway or help clean up a nearby park.
- New Trees - Help plant trees or plants in a section of the city that needs foliage. Check with local gardening clubs or your municipality to see where help is needed.
- Essential Kits - Put together small care packages with items like gloves, water bottles and protein bars to give to homeless people your family might pass on the street.
- Play with Pups - Walk dogs at a local animal shelter.
- Construction - Work on a home build for a charity like Habitat for Humanity.
- Art Supplies - Create “busy bags” with crayons, coloring books and puzzles for patients at a children’s hospital.
- Care for Neighbors - “Adopt” an elderly neighbor and help with yard work and other chores around the house.
- Sweet Treats - Bake cookies for the local police or fire station.
- Table Décor - Decorate placemats for a food assistance charity like Meals on Wheels.
- Assemble Blankets - Make blankets for kids in need through Project Linus (no sewing skills needed).
- Share the Joy of Reading - Read books to kids at a facility for at-risk youth.
- Farm to Table - Plant a small vegetable garden and donate the veggies you grow to a local food bank or make a meal to give to someone in need.
- Academic Support - Have the kids tutor fellow students after school.
- Welcome the Birds - Build a bird feeder for an elderly or otherwise homebound neighbor.
- Camp Counselors - Volunteer at a summer camp for children with illnesses and disabilities, like Victory Junction.
- The Gift of Music - Give free music lessons to less fortunate children (or adults) who wouldn’t normally be able to afford it.
- Focus on Health - Contact your local health department to find out about volunteering on flu shot clinic or child immunization days.
- Grocery Delivery - Deliver groceries to elderly neighbors. Often the bags are heavy, and they need help putting items away.
Plan a book club outreach day with a sign up. View an Example
- Sing-Along - Go caroling as a family at a senior living facility.
- Coat Drive - During winter, collect and donate gently used coats to a local coat drive.
- Holiday Spirit - Buy a Christmas tree for a less fortunate family and help them decorate it.
- Send Cheer and Joy - Make holiday cards for military members serving overseas.
- Sugary Gifts - Bake Christmas cookies for residents at a senior center.
- Gifts for All - “Adopt” a child or family from a Salvation Army Angel Tree or similar movement, and shop for gifts as a family during the holidays or for birthdays.
- Easter Project - Hide Easter eggs for a local children’s charity.
- Thankful Service - Volunteer together at a soup kitchen or other meal serving line on Thanksgiving.
- Share the Love - Make Valentines for people who wouldn’t normally get them, like residents at a nursing home or homeless people staying in transitional housing.
- Spooky Treats - Make treat bags to take to a children’s hospital or at-risk youth facility on Halloween.
Volunteering is a great way to help children realize how fortunate they are. It helps kids develop a sense of empathy with the added benefit of letting you spend time together. No matter how you choose to give back to the community, it will bring you closer as a family.
Sarah Pryor is a journalist, wife, mom and Auburn football fan living in Charlotte, N.C.