Participating in community events and projects helps kids gain an understanding of what it means to give to others and be part of a group. It's never too early to start learning how you can help make the lives of others better and more enjoyable.
Kids Ages Four to Seven
Pair kids ages four to seven up with a teen buddy or adult family member to give back and create some bonding time since they won't be able to volunteer on their own.
Play With Animals
Cats, dogs, and other small pets in animal shelters can benefit from playing with small children as it will make those animals more adoptable by families with kids. Take younger kids to the local canine rescue, cat rescue, or Humane Society and ask how you can get involved.
Make Fun Bags for Kids
Fill gallon-sized zip-top baggies with things like sidewalk chalk, directions to make a hopscotch game, an inflatable ball, or a frisbee. Write on the outside of the bag something like "If you found this bag, you're in luck! It's full of outdoor fun just for you. When you're done playing with what's inside, take it home or put it back for someone else to enjoy." Leave the bags in public parks or at the playground where other kids can find them. You could also donate these to a local women's shelter (where women may have children with them and few belongings).
Cheer on a Team
Head out to local sporting events, particularly those that might not get a huge crowd of fans and cheer on the players. Wear a shirt with your town name on it and make a sign that says something like, "You can do it!" Switch sides throughout the event to cheer on all players from all teams. Check with your local recreation department to see if there are senior citizen leagues or other games you could attend and spread some good cheer.
Create a Certified Wildlife Garden
To certify your yard as a Wildlife Garden by The National Wildlife Foundation you'll need an adult to register, $20 for the registration fee, and to prove your backyard includes proper food, water, shelter, and sustainable practices for nurturing valuable insects and animals. Kids can help by piling small logs or rocks to create cover for small animals, planting native flowers full of pollen and nectar, and filling bird baths or feeders.
Color Lunch Bags
Buy a package of plain brown lunch bags and color fun designs on both sides of each one. Donate your decorated bags to a local school, daycare, kids club, or food pantry. These bright pictures will make the meals look more appealing and give them a personalized touch that feels special.
Kids Ages Eight to Ten
Older kids may be able to participate in projects on their own, especially those done at school or near home.
Check with local vendors and craft fair coordinators to see if you can volunteer to wrap gifts for people at the event. Collect donations of gift bags, gift wrap, ribbon, bows, and tissue paper from your neighbors to take and use at the event.
Help Your Teacher
At the end of summer many teachers start setting up their classroom for the year or discover they're moving to a new classroom. Let your school's office know you'd like to volunteer to help a teacher get their room ready for the year. Kids can help hang up decorations, label cubbies, and sort supplies into bins.
Make a Meal
When someone you know has a baby or undergoes surgery, it may be hard for them to keep up with healthy meals at home. Cook and freeze a dinner you can give to someone in this circumstance to help with their transition after the hospital stay.
Clip and Collect Box Tops
Box Tops for Education are found on the packaging for many food products you buy at the store and are worth ten cents to your school. Check to see if your school already has a Box Tops coordinator. If it does, walk around your neighborhood on a weekly basis and collect Box Tops from your neighbors. If your school doesn't have a coordinator, see if you can help find one.
Become a New Kid Buddy
When new kids move to a new school, it can be uncomfortable at first. Designate yourself as the "New Kid Buddy" and tell the school office about your new service. Whenever a new student starts at your school, offer to be the person who greets them at the door, gives them a tour, and sits with them at lunch if possible.
Give the Gift of Help
Everyone from kids to senior citizens could use a little help sometimes. When kids take part in community service activities, you learn how to be kind, compassionate, and a productive member of society.