Bonding as a family is a key part of keeping relationships strong across generations. Serving others can be an invaluable experience for all ages and abilities, as it allows families to practice humility, kindness, and selflessness. Additionally, working together towards a common goal, no matter how big or small, can help build a sense of unity and understanding within the family while also providing you with the opportunity to learn valuable lessons, discover new skills, and experience a sense of pride in helping others.
As a society, we tend to prioritize service around the holiday season. It’s one reason we cherish family togetherness so much around the holidays. But, there are people in need throughout the year, and our families need strengthening at all times. By getting involved in service projects year-round, you can help your kids develop an awareness of others and a solid work ethic, while also blessing others in your community.
Benefits of Serving as a Family
Family service projects are a great way to build strong family bonds while giving back to the community. While a few benefits have been mentioned already, let’s highlight a few others.
- One of the primary benefits of family service projects is that it teaches valuable lessons about responsibility and self-discipline. Working together towards a common goal helps to instill in children and adults alike a sense of purpose and accomplishment when the project is completed. Completing a service project is a great way to show children the importance of initiative and devotion to a task.
- Service can help each member of the family practice empathy and compassion. Selflessness is a skill that must be built, and helping others is just the way to do it. Through service, you can open up your heart and your mind to all kinds of people, and helping them have a better day can be a life-changing experience.
- Another benefit of family service projects is that it can bring families closer together. Working side-by-side on a project that is meaningful to all involved can help to create stronger bonds and lasting memories. You’ll have chances to talk, learn new skills, practice talents, support and help each other, and much more. You can set a positive example for your kids but allowing them to serve alongside you.
- Service projects encourage an appreciation for diversity. Working with people from different backgrounds or with different abilities can help to broaden the worldview of all involved. By engaging in acts of kindness and compassion with people who are different from themselves, families can learn to appreciate and celebrate diversity.
- Another benefit of family service projects is that it can help to foster creativity, goal-setting, and problem-solving skills. Working on a service project allows families to come up with creative solutions to challenges and teaches children to think critically. This can be a great way for families to teach kids how to think outside the box and come up with unique ways to solve problems.
- Finally, family service projects can provide a sense of pride and satisfaction in helping others. Doing something for the greater good and making a difference can feel fulfilling. This is a great way to teach children the value of giving back, and it can provide a feeling of accomplishment that can be shared by the entire family.
Overall, family service projects are a great way to make us all better people, focused on supporting our fellow man. We can all have a wider worldview and even a happier disposition if we prioritize service, especially within our families.
5 Year-Round Family Service Project Ideas
Collect and donate food to your local food pantry.
Food pantries often are pretty sparse after the holiday rush, but hunger and starvation affect people during all times of the year. Talk to your loved ones about this cause and consider making a regular donation to your local food bank. This can make a huge impact on your community, and it is fairly simple to implement.
Get your kids involved by having them pick out a few cans of nonperishable each time you’re at the store. Put those cans in a box in your home, and once the box gets full every few weeks or months, take it to the food pantry. This is a simple, cost-effective, and helpful way to serve those in need!
Clean up your community.
Start the conversation with your family while you’re playing at the park or fishing in your favorite pond – whatever it is you love to do together. Tell your children that we all need to do our part to take care of our planet so that everyone can enjoy it for a long time to come.
The next time you’re heading out to play, pack up supplies for cleaning up litter (or, better yet, have a stash stored in your car). Bring gloves and trash bags. Take your children to a favorite spot that needs a little cleanup, and pick up all the trash that you find (make sure to handle any dangerous or unsanitary pieces yourself). Or, set a timer and pick up as much trash as possible (whatever system works for your family). Dispose of the waste properly.
Afterward, reward your child with some time on the playground, or maybe a fun activity like a bike ride! Make this a long-term habit by picking up a few pieces of trash each time you visit the park!
Bonus idea: If you collect bottle caps, you can organize a community project to build a Buddy Bench at your favorite playground! It’s a great way to recycle and encourage friendships. More information can be found here.
Foster a pet.
If your family is full of pet-lovers, this can be the perfect service project for you! Fostering pets is a growing trend in many areas, so ask around at your local shelters to see how you can get involved.
Of course, make sure your home is conducive to caring for a pet. Many of the pets in need of foster care have been in traumatic situations and may have behavior issues of some kind. Make sure you are equipped with the supplies to handle that, and that your children are not afraid of animals.
Take a look at this checklist to help you decide if this is a good service for you and your loved one.
Grow a community garden.
Gardening has so many benefits. It gives the gardener plenty of exercise, yields healthy foods, and helps the environment. Gardening as a family can be a great service project if your family is environmentally-minded and health-conscious.
You might ask how gardening could be a year-round service project.
First, consider what you can grow based on your space, resources, and climate. You may have a robust garden during the spring and summer, with a few herbs you can grow indoors during the winter (unless you are blessed with a greenhouse).
Then, think about your neighbors or others you know who could use some fresh food. You could agree as a family to set aside some produce to take to an elderly relative each week or donate some to your local food pantry. You could also decide to host a seasonal get-together to help all your neighbors socialize over a healthy meal.
You don’t have to have a massive farm to reap the benefits of gardening. This service is all about health, wellness, and togetherness. If you focus on that, then your efforts will be meaningful.
Make your neighborhood better for all.
This one may seem a little ambiguous, but there are some real changes you can make as a family right in your own neighborhood. First, hold a family meeting and talk about the needs you see. Here are examples of things you might note:
- More signage and/or speed bumps around playgrounds to slow drivers and keep children safe.
- More inclusive Halloween practices, like avoiding decorations with strobe lights that could harm children with epilepsy.
- A greater variety of books at your local library.
- Assistance an elderly neighbor who struggles to get her groceries from her car to her door.
- Lighting for a bus stop to promote safety.
Once you have your list made, do some research to figure out how to accomplish some of the items you identified. Some of the items may be more difficult than others, but that’s okay. Do your best to work together as a family to solve a new problem each month (or each quarter – however you want to set up your deadlines) and get busy!
As parents, finding meaningful service projects for all ages and abilities that everyone can take part in can be a daunting task. But with some creative thinking and planning, parents can find service projects that are enjoyable and beneficial to the family. Remember, the service doesn’t have to be elaborate to be meaningful and effective.
Consider the time you have available in your schedule, as well as any physical or mental limitations you or your family members might have. Look for service projects that involve a shared interest or skillset. For example, if your family loves animals, you can search for opportunities to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Or, if you have a green thumb, you can look for ways to volunteer with a local community garden or urban farming project.
When you are ready to search for opportunities, ask your friends and family members if they have any ideas. Reach out to your church and school groups to see what needs they have. Look at bulletin boards, flyers, and Facebook groups. Also, look at JustServe.org – they have opportunities for a wide variety of causes and you can search for them based on your location (remote options are also available).
Throughout the process, don’t forget to be flexible with your schedule and the demands of your life. Consider your family’s feedback at all times. Let them ask questions and share opinions and insights. And, celebrate successes as they come! Service can be hard work, and it oftentimes involves thankless tasks. So, make sure your children know they are doing great work and becoming amazing people!
WANT TO READ MORE?
5 Amazing and Easy Service Projects for Little Kids
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