Seasonal Service Projects for All Ages

National Family Volunteer Day (the Saturday before Thanksgiving) kicks off the holiday season and is the perfect time to get the whole family involved in a service project! (After all, when do you ever have so many volunteers on hand?) It is so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays – this year seize the season as a way to help your children (and family) understand that the holidays aren’t just about getting gifts, but also about giving. Children will feel the warmth of sharing, caring and helping others as they personally make a difference for members in your community to feel happy and loved – which is what the season is really about!

Check out these 8 kid-friendly service project ideas that are great for any age – for anyone looking to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

1. Create Blessing Bags – care packages for those experiencing homelessness. Assemble toiletries, socks, hats, gloves, scarves, bottles of water, granola or protein bars, a few dollars in quarters or low value gift cards to fast food restaurants in reusable bags. Hand them out when you see someone in your community in need or asking for money. (If you don’t feel comfortable handing out the packages in person, drop them off at a local shelter for them to distribute.)

2. Set up a cider and hot chocolate stand, all proceeds go to a local charity. It’s as simple as that. Be sure to set up a sign so passersby know that your refreshment stand intends to give all funds raised to a good cause.

3. Prepare festive food bank donations. Decorate reusable shopping bags (with fabric paint or markers) and fill them with non-perishable food items like hearty soups, rice and beans, toiletries, even pet food. Donate the filled bags to your local food bank [https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank]. Pro Tip: Make it a group event and coordinate donations with free online signups from SignUp. Each parent can buy in bulk and bring one type of item to the assembly gathering. 

4. Pay it forward to a family or individual in your own neighborhood. Know someone who could use a little extra help – maybe an elderly couple, a homebound neighbor or someone with a new baby? Offer to shovel snow, rake leaves, go grocery shopping or simply drop off treats and chat over a neighborly cup of coffee.

5. Host a book and stuffed animal drive. Post a message on Nextdoor (or whatever social network app your neighborhood uses) that you are collecting wagons, gently used books and stuffed animals from the families on your block. Most local hospitals, churches, fire or police stations, and shelters accept gently loved children’s books and/or stuffed animals. Check with the facility before you go to make sure that they accept those types of donations. 

6. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen. Soup kitchens always need volunteers (especially before or after the holidays), and even children can help. Younger volunteers might not be able to serve food, but they can greet visitors as they walk in, set tables, or help in the clean up efforts. Check out the Homeless Shelter Directory to find a list of homeless shelters and other service organizations that need volunteers in your community.

7. Donate items or volunteer your time at your local animal shelter. Shelters are always needing donations such as pet food, leashes, and new toys, as well as household items like old towels, newspapers, hand sanitizer, cleaning and office supplies. But did you know that your family can also volunteer to walk dogs, play with cats, groom the pets, clean cages, help at adoption days, and more? Just ask at your local rescue shelter what kind of help they need.  Find your local animal shelter here

8. Adopt a Troop. Operation Shoebox is a non-profit organization that connects supportive families with deployed troops in order to offer encouragement and express gratitude to our brave men and women serving in the U.S. military. This is done via care packages and letters. Adopting a troop is a great way for kids to spread joy and practice their writing while learning about the world and honoring our service members.

Looking for more ideas to pay it forward in your community? See SignUp's Community Action & Activism Resource Center


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Printable Blessing Bag Notes

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