Benefits of Community Service for Families

Community service is one of the best ways to teach your child the value of empathy. Not only does volunteering show kids compassion and selflessness, but it can also teach them a variety of life skills as well. Although the main purpose of volunteering may be to help the community, there are also a number of benefits for your family to take advantage of.

Community Service Builds Community Ties

When your kids get involved in serving those around them, they become more invested in their community as well.  A community is especially important for teenagers since they can be easily influenced by their peers and classmates.

Community Service Builds Empathy

People who volunteer are more aware of their surrounds and the people they encounter in their daily life. Parents want to raise their children to be compassionate, caring, and empathetic, so showing them these values in action can be more effective than just explaining them. Volunteering provides a great opportunity to build your child’s empathy. By exposing your child to diverse people, situations, age groups, and issues, they will be able to relate to others and be more accepting.

Volunteer Activities Build Confidence

Many people take a look at all of the issues in the world and feel helpless. However, when you and your family engage in community service, you’ll soon realize that the little things you do can make a difference in the lives of others. Teaching your child about charity work can help them realize that their actions matter and can make a real difference in the lives of others..

Community Service Builds Leadership Skills

Similarly, volunteer opportunities help to build leadership skills in young people. By taking initiative, completing a project, and accomplishing a task or goal, your child will feel responsible for their actions and behavior. In fact, by encouraging your kids to get their friends and other family members on board with community service, they can practice leadership skills as well.

Community Service Brings Your Family Together

There is no greater experience than serving together as a family! Taking an afternoon to focus on others takes the focus off of the problems that your own family may be experiencing. When you practice community involvement as a family, not only are you helping others but you’re also teaching your child valuable life lessons as well. Not only that, but it is also an excellent way to bond with your child, no matter their age.  

Getting Started

When your first approach your family with the idea of doing volunteer activities, they may be hesitant or confused (especially if you’ve never done it before). PBS Kids is one of the best resources for parents who want to make a positive impact in their community. Whether you’re looking for opportunities to work with children, or have never volunteered, here are a few helpful tips for you and your family.

  • Be a giving role model. Let your kids follow your lead as a volunteer. If you set a good example, they will notice your interests in volunteering.
  • Find something fun. Community service doesn’t have to be boring. Try to find something that interests the whole family.
  • Find something easy. Volunteering doesn’t have to be hard labor or time-consuming. Start small.
  • Make it a part of your family schedule. Life is busy! Schedule it into the family calendar so that it becomes a family priority.
  • Create your own opportunity.  Some parents struggle to find community service organizations that allow young children to participate due to age restrictions or other requirements. Search for opportunities among your friends, neighbors, schools, churches, and other local programs.
  • Think beyond volunteering. Show your child a variety of different fields that need volunteers.
  • Learn from other generations. Seek out opportunities at senior centers and preschools. The wisdom that comes with age and the simplicity that is present in young kids can help guide your framework for community service.
  • Enlist your friends and extended family members. When everyone around you is on board, your child will be able to see the true value of charity.
  • See the Impact. When your family or friends are making a difference in the world, notice it and encourage it – and make sure your kids do, too.

Community Service Ideas

Overall, volunteering doesn’t need to be difficult, time-consuming or even “official.” Often, it just takes a little bit of planning, effort, and intentionality. There are a variety of ways to serve your community and get your kids to join in on the fun, whether you have toddlers or teenagers.

Here are 30 different ways that you can get your whole family involved in community service.

  1. Plant trees or wildflowers in your neighborhood.
  2. Purchase produce and donate it to a local food bank.
  3. Host a canned food drive for those in need.
  4. Participate in a fun community event that brings awareness to a local cause such as 5K races.
  5. Pick up litter at the beach or a park.
  6. Develop and maintain a recycling program at your kids’ school or workplace.
  7. Collect food, warm clothing, toys, or personal care items for the needy and deliver to shelters.
  8. Collect unused makeup and cosmetics for a center for abused women. Feminine products are also a great donation item for a women’s shelter as well.
  9. Make holiday cards, birthday cards, and notes for assisted living facilities, patients in a local hospital, or meals on wheels.
  10. Donate old eyeglasses or shoes to an organization that recycles them for those in need.
  11. Collect old stuffed animals and dolls, repair and clean them, and then donate to your local children’s shelter.
  12. Read books to young kids at a library, family shelter, or children’s hospital.
  13. At Christmas time, contact a tree farm or nursery about donating a Christmas tree to a family in need, shelter or nursing home – or purchase one and donate it yourself!
  14. Make a holiday basket or Christmas care package for individuals in need.
  15. Host a crayon and marker drive! Kids in the hospital use lots of art supplies. Offer to wash a neighbor’s dog, or take their pets for a walk!
  16. Write letters of gratitude and encouragement to service men, women, and families.
  17. Put together a care-package for service men and women and their families.
  18. Collect and donate items on an animal organization or shelter wish list. If your family is good with kids, offer to babysit your neighbor’s children so that they can have a date night.
  19. Take your family to visit a retirement home and have senior citizens teach the kids games!. Check beforehand to see if you can bring cookies or other treats.
  20. Help a foster or adoptive family! Bring them a meal, offer assistance, or collect gift cards or clothing items. Even writing encouraging letters to the foster parents and the kids would mean the world to them.
  21. Have a garage sale or lemonade stand for your favorite cause or charity.
  22. When school supplies are very cheap at the beginning of the year, purchase a backpack and supplies for a local child in need.
  23. Bring gently used board games and decks of cards to a local homeless shelter, retirement home, or hospital.
  24. Bring cookies or other treats to your local police station for the law enforcement officers.
  25. Donate gently used baby and toddler toys to a nearby church, community center, or crisis pregnancy center. Diapers, wipes, and clothing are great donations as well.
  26. Go through the books you’ve grown out of and donate them to the waiting room of a local doctor, a public library, or look up where a “little free library” is in your community and leave them there!
  27. Do errands, cook, bring a meal, provide transportation, or otherwise help someone in your community who is dealing with an illness.
  28. Have your older kids tutor younger children in subjects in school that they excel in.

As you can see, there are thousands of ways in which your whole family can get involved in community service! Not only does engaging in community service provide your family with the opportunity to become active members in your community, but it truly does have a lasting, positive impact on your neighborhood and the world as a whole.

No matter which area you choose to volunteer in or what activity you decide to do together, you may quickly discover that you and your family benefit more from community service than those that you are giving to! Overall, making community service a priority for you and your kids will help your family make memories and also help your kids develop positive habits to carry into adulthood!

For more helpful resources on how to get involved in your community, contact our team at Children’s Bureau today.