Friday, January 16, 2015

10 Awesome Family Service Project Ideas

Monday, January 19th, is National Day of Service. What better excuse to get out with your family to do something for someone else. We have done this with our kids a few times over the years and it's always been such a positive experience. It really puts things into perspective and helps your kids realize just how blessed their lives are and to be thankful for the things they have. Here are ten amazing service projects you can do with the entire family.

1. HAVE A FOOD DRIVE. We have done this several different ways in the past. It can be as simple as having a "food drive party" at your house. Invite all of your friends over for a party, and ask them to bring non-perishable food items with them for your drive. People really get into it and are usually very generous. We have also gotten permission to do this before school events as well, and set up a little donation table at the front door. (just make sure to advertise, so people know to bring food with them)

2. WARM COATS/SOCKS FOR THE HOMELESS. Another drive idea, is gathering coats in the winter time for the homeless. If that's too much work, go buy a package of warm socks, fill them up with some granola bars and water bottles, and give those to the homeless when you see them.

3. HELP OUT FRIENDS AND FAMILY. You don't have to look far to help someone in need. Sometimes it's as close as your neighbor or Aunt Melissa. If someone you know has a big project that they need help with, gather the family together for a work party. We have cleaned carpets, raked leaves and built a deck in the past helping out our own family members.

4. VOLUNTEER AT THE LOCAL FOOD BANK. We have done this one a couple of times and it's quite humbling. There are a lot of different things to be done at the food banks, anything from stocking shelves with incoming food to distributing the food to those who are coming in to get it. It's all worthwhile. Most people are extremely grateful.

5. WORK AT A SOUP KITCHEN. Admittedly, this is one thing that we have not had the opportunity to do. Handing out food at the food bank is as close as I have come to this one, but I would imagine the experience is close to the same. Very humbling and rewarding.

6. GET TO QUILTING. Learn a new skill while helping those in need. Just tying a simple quilt is an easy thing to learn how to do but will go a long way in the life of someone in need. There are several places that a good quilt can go to: women's shelters, hospitals and nursing homes would all love to have an extra quilt.

7. HAVE A GARAGE SALE AND DONATE ALL THE PROCEEDS. When hurricane Katrina hit, our family felt like we really needed to do something to help. We went through our house and gathered up all of the things we really didn't need, solicited the help of our friends to donate things, and then had a huge garage sale. We advertised it and said all proceeds go to Hurricane Katrina. We made about $500 in one day to donate, and the rest of the stuff left over we donated to charity. Win-win.

8. MAKE A HOLIDAY MAGICAL FOR ANOTHER FAMILY. We have done this two different ways. One year we volunteered for a giving tree organization - you've seen the giving trees at Christmas time where you pick a person off the tree, buy a gift for that person and then donate the gift. We were on the back end of this process. We got to take a family, gather the gifts that were purchased for them, wrap them up and box them for delivery. This was probably my kids' favorite service project of all time. The other way we have done this is just get a family in need - whether it's through a church, community center, neighborhood, or just someone you know. We did this at Thanksgiving time. There was a family in need and we bought them an entire Thanksgiving meal and delivered it - knock and run style. The kids got to hide and see the reaction of the people when they opened their door to a box full of food.

9. VISIT A NURSING HOME ON MOTHERS/FATHERS DAY. Gather together some flowers for mother's day and maybe some ties for father's day and visit a nursing home. Spend some time with the residents that don't get visitors and leave them the gift of a visit. They will love you forever, and maybe you'll even gain a new grandparent.

10. SEW PILLOWCASES FOR THE HOSPITAL. Last year my mother had heart surgery. It was not an easy procedure and her recovery was long and difficult. One thing that really cheered her up and made her room more bearable was the amazing pillowcases that someone donated. They were of a bright and beautiful fabric and really gave her a bright spot on her room. Pillowcases are SUPER easy to make - just a few straight lines - and it will cheer someone up more than you know. Make a batch of bright and beautiful pillowcases and take them to your local hospital.

Service doesn't have to be long and complicated. Just small gestures go a long way and mean so much to someone in need. It's good for kids to think beyond themselves and put someone else first.

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