Guest Blog: Ways for You and Your Family to Give Back

Involving your kids in service projects isn’t just good for the community - it’s good for your kids. Teaching your children how to become involved in their communities at an early age instills important life lessons that they will use later on.

Each year my family and I take part in a service project as part of our Easter celebration. This year we rehabbed a community playground that was in desperate need of some love and care, and started planting a community garden. I organize these projects each year because they’re great opportunities to spend time together as family and to teach our kids the importance of teamwork. But I think they also provide our kids with an appreciation for and investment in their communities on a small scale and Planet Earth as a whole on a larger scale.

“When children learn to improve their communities, they develop the capacity to organize others. They acquire problem-solving, planning, time management, and marketing skills … Experiences that involve teamwork, collaboration, and interaction are training grounds for future organized citizens, people who set goals, work within established systems, and motivate others to help. These kinds of citizens coordinate food drives, develop recycling programs, or take part in community-action committees,” says

Easter may be over, but that doesn’t mean the time for doing good deeds has passed. In fact, I find that summer is a great time for family service projects because the weather is more agreeable and the kids are out of school. Here are some great hands-on ideas for service projects for you and your family.

Do some spring cleaning

One of the easiest service projects your family can organize is a clean-up project. There’s virtually no overhead - all you need is some able-bodied people, some trash bags, and maybe a few rakes.

Popular locations that need cleaning are your local parks, wooded areas, hiking and biking trails, and school grounds. You can also identify elderly or disabled members of your community and help them with yard work. Not only does this project greatly benefit your entire community, but it lets your children get some solid exercise. If you’re managing a lot of youngsters in a cleanup project in a park or large outdoors area, it might be a good idea to make some T-shirts for the project. And, of course, if tools are being used, make sure only older kids are allowed to touch those and always with an adult supervising.

Turn it into a fun game

What child doesn’t like having a little bit of fun? The grim truth is that everyone has their own personal and daily struggles, and you never know what someone is going through. Turn giving back into a fun activity your children will love and enjoy spreading happiness to those who need it most.

There are numerous ways to make this work. You can simply fill up a jar with pieces of paper that list random of acts of kindness for you and your children to complete each week. It can be something simple like “leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep” or “bury treasure at the playground” by filling a piece of tupperware with small toys and other goodies. Your child will enjoy being a secret messenger and learn small ways to bring joy to others. Encourage them to think of their own ways to brighten someone’s day. You might be surprised at the creative ideas they come up with.

If your child enjoys art, tap into their artistic abilities to help them create a fun gift for a child in need. The non-profit Msterio enables children to color a handcrafted doll to send to children around the world. At each receiving destination, children get to play with the gift for a short time before it jets off to the next destination. It is a gift that keeps on giving, and the fun continues too. After your child creates their masterpiece, they can track it as it travels around the world.

Hold a food pantry event

Nothing says giving back like providing the most basic of necessities for those in your community. Getting involved with creating and distributing baskets of food and supplies with a local food pantry is a great way to teach your children the importance of helping others. Organize a food drive so your child can have a hands-on learning experience. The event doesn’t have to be on a large scale. Involve just your family or try to get everyone in your neighborhood to participate. Simply pick a local group that needs food and ask what food items need the most. Let your child take the reigns and create posters, organize items, and deliver the collection, keeping them involved from start to finish as they learn what it truly means to give back.

According to one food bank, children learn giving by participating in it and modeling the actions of others around them, setting the course for future community involvement. “The patterns of giving that children learn as they are growing up tend to shape their attitudes toward the same as adults.”

There is never a better time than now to show your kids what caring really means. Why not spend some quality family time making a difference in the lives of others?

Paul Denikin

Dad Knows DIY Blogger


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