I love spring – the flowers, the birds, the warmer weather, and the promise of summer break! However, this can be a challenging time of year for parents and children as school is coming to an end, the weather can be unpredictable, and many of us are experiencing spring fever. Sometimes the weather makes it difficult to plan fun things to do as a family, and children can get bored and begin bickering. A great idea for the spring season is engaging your children in opportunities to serve others. Service projects can include assisting the elderly, environmental clean-up projects, working with church groups, etc. These projects can be simple, like rounding up unused toys to donate one rainy afternoon, to a commitment for a family to serve at a soup kitchen each Saturday for a year.
Our school is hosting a “Uniting to Help the United Way” day of service for grades 6-12 at two different locations in Kansas this month. I know not all of the students are able to attend due to location, timing, etc. This gave me the opportunity to discuss with them ways they could help at a place and time more convenient for their family. I was so happy to see that many of my students already participate, donate, and volunteer in one way or another. I love some of their ideas! Using some of them, I came up with five great ways for students to participate in service projects:
- Donate gently used items – Books to the library, crafts to a children’s hospital, games to a homeless shelter.
- Organize a drive – Food for a local pantry, school supplies, coats for kids, pet food for an animal shelter.
- Give your time – Serve food at a soup kitchen, volunteer at an animal shelter, visit the elderly at a nursing home.
- Clean up – pick up litter at a local park, plant flowers at your church, pick up sticks for an elderly neighbor.
- Fundraise for a cause– have a garage sale, bake sale, or craft fair and donate the money to a local charity.
The best thing about service projects is not keeping children busy or even the impact on the community. I often remind my own daughter, as well as my students, that they will get more out of helping others! The truth is, making the decision to complete a service project rarely has anything to do with ourselves, but in the end, we get just as much out of our time as the person/organization/community that we helped.