Community service projects are a great way to give back, cultivate empathy, and build connections within schools and families, and between kids and the larger community – all while making the world a better place. And, they can be fun, too!
Here are twelve awesome community service projects for kids of all ages. You’ll find options for families with preschoolers, youth groups, and whole schools. Projects address hunger, support families as they move out of extreme poverty, and can make your own neighborhood a cleaner, brighter space.
Collect Pennies 1 of 12
If your kids' elementary or middle school is ready for a school-wide philanthropic project that spans several months, check out the Penny Harvest. Through this program, children learn about issues facing their community, make decisions about which organizations to support, and engage in service-learning projects. All those pennies collected really add up: over $8 million dollars in grants have been donated since the Penny Harvest began in 1991.
Clean Up, Clean Up 2 of 12
Organize a few hours of park clean-up with your playgroup or local parents' group. Make it more fun by working alongside friends and bringing along snacks for after the hard work's done, and post pics of your collected trash on Litterati's digital landfill. Want to do more than just collect empty bottles and snack bar wrappers? You can even take it a step further by joining up with your preschool or city park association to apply for funds from KaBOOM! to purchase new playground equipment.
Diaper Drive 3 of 12
As any new parent knows, diapers are expensive. New parents who are struggling to make ends meet often need a little help keeping their babies clean and dry, and that's where diaper banks come in. Through the National Diaper Bank Network, you can find a diaper bank in your area, or you can also ask your local food pantry if they distribute diapers, as many food pantries do. Holding a diaper drive can be a fun project for baby-loving preschoolers or playgroups.
Make Cards 4 of 12
Art-loving kids of an age can create hand-made cards for people who can use a little cheering up. Through the Red Cross' Holiday Mail for Heroes program, you can send cards with messages of thanks to service members. Or, your children can make cards for children with life-threatening illnesses, and send them along to Love Letters: Random Cards of Kindness, a nonprofit founded by Kaitlyn Chana when she was in eighth grade.
Books for Africa 5 of 12
Through Books for Africa, you can help stock school and community libraries in Africa. The organization accepts English and French-language books for children through adults. Your family can send along gently-used books that your kids have grown out of, or you can make this a group project and host a larger book drive.
Read to Feed 6 of 12
Through the Heifer International's Read to Feed program, students ask friends and family to sponsor each book they read during a specified time frame. All the donations then go to support Heifer International's work to end poverty around the world, and the organization even offers resources to help students learn about hunger and sustainable development. The tools provided make this a simple project to launch that's meaningful for all the kids participating.
A Week To Fight Extreme Poverty 7 of 12
One group of inspired high school students in West Virginia hosted a week's worth of fundraising and awareness-raising activities to address extreme poverty in Africa. The students raised $2500, and helped their classmates learn more about poverty and one organization, Nuru International, that works alongside people living in poverty. Here's how other groups of high school students can follow these students' lead, and host their own poverty-fighting week.
Wash A Few Dogs 8 of 12
Animal-lovers can band together for a wet, messy day of pet washing. For a donation of $5 or $10 per pet, kids can scrub down the neighborhood mutts, and then share the proceeds with your local humane society.
Cookies for Cancer 9 of 12
Cookies for Cancer's tools and resources make it easy to host a bake sale to raise funds for pediatric cancer research. Bake up a batch of cookies or brownies, and sell away. You can even send a box of gourmet cookies as a gift, with the proceeds going to Cookies for Cancer's important work ($29.99 per box).
Random Acts of Kindness Day 10 of 12
Read the book Because Amelia Smiled, a beautifully illustrated book about the power of small, thoughtful gestures. Then, spend a day or a week seeing how many nice things your kids can do for friends and neighbors.
Hold A Food Drive 11 of 12
A food drive is an easy, concrete way for kids, especially younger children, to start to think about helping others in their communities. Older kids can do a fill-the-cans drive instead: since food pantries can often buy 10 times as much food as you or I can at the grocery store, donating dollars goes farther than boxes of mac and cheese.
Lemonade Stand for A Good Cause 12 of 12
In these last few days of warm weather before the fall, kids can host a weekend lemonade stand and raise funds for a charity of their choice. Together with Alex's Lemonade Stand, kids can raise funds to support research for childhood cancer. Or, your kids can pick another nonprofit that advances a cause they're passionate about - like Vivienne, an amazing eight-year-old lemonade stand queen who raised over $30,000 to prevent human trafficking.