I’ve always wanted to include my kids in service, even before I had kids of my own. Once I did have kids though, I didn’t quite know where to start. I couldn’t think of any service projects for kids that fit into my budget or new-found busy life. So, service took a back seat for a while… until recently!
I decided that my oldest daughter (3 years old) was now old enough to start doing service projects, but I was surprised once I realized that I could have started serving with her long before now. Even young toddlers can serve, believe it or not. With that being said, it’s never too late to start serving with your children!
Once I did start focusing more on serving with my daughters, I quickly remembered how happy it made me & it reinforced that it was something I wanted my kids to feel. Service brings a happiness that nothing else can bring.
Even when your child is a baby or young toddler there are still many ways you can include them in service projects. They can still learn to love serving, even at this young age.
-Take your baby to a nursing home or visit a relative who lives alone. Babies cheer everyone up, every time I take my daughters to visit my grandmas in retirement centers or care centers, we would always get stopped in the hall by a friendly admirer (nurse or other patients).
-Make a craft with their hand print for someone (neighbor, relative, etc.)
There’s something about seeing a cute baby hand (or hand print) that is so sweet… it’s bound to put a smile on someone’s face!
-Donate stuffed animals to firemen or policemen who gather them to give to the children they are called to help.
-Volunteer at your local animal shelter – call before hand – sometimes they need volunteers to help feed & play with the animals.
-Bake cookies for your local police officers & deliver them with your child to the police station. If you’re feeling extra ambitious, help your child write a thank you card to include, too.
-Write letters to some veterans or children in the hospital.
-Go to the park on a mission. Encourage your child to be sure all of the kids on the playground are included & have someone to play with.
-Put together play kits for your local children’s hospital. You can usually find the items they accept & need on their website.
I think the key for the teenage years is to find what your teenager’s interests are & direct them in serving in that area. Volunteer Match is a great place for teenagers to find service opportunities locally.
-If they’re interested in helping children with special needs, they can volunteer for to help at the Special Olympics.
-If they’re interested in art, contact your local art museum to see if they need volunteers for an upcoming event.
-Make some pb&j sandwiches to take to the homeless people downtown like this college student did. You could even take a bunch of bananas or granola bars if you’d rather. Side note: I offered some trail mix to a homeless man asking for money, but he declined. The reason? He said he didn’t have any teeth!!
Almost any of these ideas can take 1 hour, or if you’d like to make them into a full blown community service group project, you could! You’ll also notice that these can be interchangeable depending on the age, and LOTS of them can be done at all ages!
Once I started brainstorming ideas for my girls & I to do together, I was surprised at how much easier the ideas started coming. There are lots of great ways you can serve with your children, you just have to be looking for them.
Have you done a service project with your kids? Tell us what you did together in the comments below!