Do you want to help your family develop loving relationships, a strong work ethic, citizenship, and compassion? Serving together as a family will accomplish that and more. Here are 10 service projects your family can enjoy together. Service blesses those who receive and those who give. Try one and find out how fun service can be.
1. Neighborhood cleanup
Join a formal cleanup day, or have your own. Walk around your neighborhood with trash bags and weeding supplies. Wear gloves and warn children of dangerous trash. Say hello to neighbors you meet along the way. Maybe you’ll even recruit some helpers.
2. Homeless shelter
Call ahead to learn of needed volunteer work. If you can’t serve in the facility, see if there are supplies that can be collected and donated. Consider a family shelter to make the experience more relevant for your children.
3. Letters to relatives
Make colorful cards for a lonely, sick or ailing relative. Send a note to cousins you haven’t visited recently. It’s difficult to help family members who may be struggling when you don’t live near them, but a kind note is always appreciated.
4. Fundraiser race
Many non-profit organizations host races to earn money for research or funding projects. Your family could train together and run the race, or volunteer to help on race day. Choose a cause that is meaningful to your family.
5. Nature clean up
If your family has a favorite hiking trail, lake, beach or park, spend a few hours cleaning up the area. Many natural areas have volunteer corps who help with these efforts. Call to get permission if you are working on your own.
6. Thank you notes
Brainstorm a list of people who help your family regularly, like the mail carrier, bus drivers, teachers, aides, etc. Write thank you notes expressing gratitude for the service they provide. Include a small treat, if desired. Everyone likes to be told “thank you!”
7. Service scavenger hunt
Plan a service scavenger hunt in your neighborhood. Think of jobs like leaf raking, weeding, sweeping, taking out trash, doing dishes and other simple tasks. Make a list and try to complete as many as you can. If you have a large family, split into two groups and set a time limit. Encourage each member of the family to participate. You might make some new friends.
8. Fundraiser for a cause
Choose a cause that is important to you. Perhaps there has been a recent natural disaster, or someone close to your family has been diagnosed with a disease. Decide on a fundraiser (car wash, yard sale, bake sale), then donate the proceeds to your chosen organization.
Most communities have animal shelters that rely heavily on volunteer hours to operate. If you are part of an animal-loving family, take a turn volunteering at your local shelter or collecting needed supplies and food for the animals at the shelter.
10. Work at a food bank
Like animal shelters, food banks often need volunteers. The main food bank in my community uses several shifts of volunteers daily. Call your local food bank and take your family for a shift.
If you enjoy service projects and want more ideas, work with an organization like United Way. They have lists of volunteer opportunities by community, often available online. You can choose one that fits your family’s ability and schedule.
Serving your community as a family is one of the best ways to spend time together. Children will learn new skills, improve their work ethic, feel gratitude for the blessings in their lives, and start a habit of service. Make a family goal to do a small service project a few times a year, or even once a month. Your eyes will be opened to new opportunities within your community and your family.
Amy M. Peterson, a former high school English teacher, currently lives in Oregon with her husband and four children. She spends her days writing, reading, exercising and trying to get her family to eat more vegetables.