If you have a desire to help others, community service provides an avenue that benefits people or groups of people in the area in which you live, your country, or the world. Volunteers help senior citizens, children, the environment, animals, people with disabilities, and many other individuals and groups. Volunteers do not receive any monetary compensation for their time but do receive experience and benefit from learning to give to others. Your community probably offers opportunities for serving through local places of worship, schools, and various non-profit organizations.
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Sometimes teens must have a certain number of community service hours before high school graduation. Some adults are ordered to serve in their communities by judges as part of their sentence for a misdemeanor. Whatever the reason for community service, needs are met every day all over our country and the world. In this article, we provide community service ideas for kids, teens, and adults.
Community Service Ideas for Kids
Children should begin at an early age learning to care about the needs of others and involving them in community service is an excellent idea. Additionally, kids learn valuable lessons, such as:
- How to work with others
- Problem solving
- How to make choices responsibly
- Awareness of local and global issues
- How to be a servant
- Compassion and caring for others
You can make community service a valuable family time. We have listed several fun and exciting ideas to share with your kids to help make their first experience serving others a positive one.
- Contact your city or town government to get permission to plant a tree for Arbor Day in a local park.
- Volunteer as a family at a local shelter to help serve Thanksgiving dinner.
- Bake cookies and take them to a neighborhood shut-in.
- Contact your local zoo to see if you can sponsor an animal.
- Make birthday and other special occasion cards for residents of a local rest home.
- Donate a decorated Christmas tree to a local nursing home or homeless shelter.
- Adopt a senior citizen in your neighborhood and do their yardwork, help with home repairs, and spend holidays with them.
- Your children can improve their reading skills and bring joy to others by reading to residents of a local nursing home.
- Your family can sponsor an orphaned child living in a foreign country.
- Collect clean and nearly new stuffed animals and donate them to hospitals or homeless shelters.
- Pick up litter at a local park or playground.
- Make a holiday basket for a neighbor who lives alone.
- Read books, letters, magazines, or the newspaper to seniors in residential care.
- Volunteer to play with the cats and dogs at a local animal shelter.
- Your family can adopt a local historical marker to maintain by contacting your local historical society.
If your child is a bit older, you can help the find a kid-friendly organization in which to participate.
- Your family can host a shoe-cutting party for solehope.org. You will be provided with a kit including a pattern to turn your old jeans into shoes for people in Uganda.
- Project Linus offers directions on how to make a no-sew fleece blanket for a child.
- Donate DVD’s and videogames to a homeless shelter, children’s hospital, or to KidFlicks, an organization that sets up movie libraries for children’s wards in hospitals.
- Decorate placemats for your local Meals on Wheels program.
- Be a cheerleader at your local Special Olympics games with balloons and cheering.
- Collect new or gently worn winter coats from family, neighbors, and friends and donate them to a homeless shelter or to onewarmcoat.org if there is a contact for the organization in your area. Your family’s place of worship might choose to become a chapter for this group.
Community Service Ideas for Teens
Participation in community service is especially important for teens, as it provides a building block upon which much of their lives can benefit. Teens not only give of themselves to others, but also receive many benefits from participating in community service, including:
- Meeting new friends
- Strengthening college applications and a resume
- Providing work experience
- Building good character through helping others
- Improving your neighborhood, community, and world
- Providing personal growth
- Discovering talents and abilities one may not be aware of
Before you begin your community service, take the following steps to insure success:
Assess Your Interests
Consider what you do well and enjoy. For example, if you play the piano and enjoy doing so for others, volunteer to play for residents at a local retirement home. Make a list of what you can and will do in your community. If you wish, look at on-line opportunities, such as freerice.com, a World Food Programme that donates ten grains of rice for every answer you get right in a variety of subjects.
Consider Your Resources
Do you have items you can donate, such as clean, nearly new stuffed animals, clothing, or books? Also decide how much time you have each week for volunteering. If you need transportation, how will you get to where you wish to volunteer? You may wish to discuss your resources with your parents before volunteering.
Research Available Community Service Options
Your school, place of worship, and city offices are excellent places to inquire about available local options for community service. Ask your parents and other adults you know about opportunities for volunteering. You can also look on-line for groups, such as DoSomething.org to find a cause or volunteer experience to support. Their website says, “Join 6 million young people transforming their communities,” which means whatever you choose to do will impact many lives.
Volunteer for Community Service
Once you have researched available community service options, choose one or two specific organizations to contact. Alternatively, choose a suggestion from our list of community service opportunities for teens that you can do on your own. If you are not ready to make a full-time, permanent commitment, volunteer to help with one event so you can see if the organization is one you wish to work with on an ongoing basis. Get permission from local authorities if you plan on doing something in a venue overseen by the city or county. For example, if you want to paint a park bench, check with the local government for permission before doing so. Be creative and come up with your own idea of how to meet a community need or choose one of the following suggestions:
- Babysit children for parents who are looking for work or for a family in need.
- Collect and donate blankets to a homeless shelter.
- Collect and donate used books to your local library.
- Collect and donate your and your friends’ old clothes.
- Work to help create a walking trail at a local park or recreational area.
- Organize a school or community drug-free campaign.
- Clean up the yard of a senior neighbor who needs assistance.
- Collect and donate winter clothing – hats, coats, and gloves – for a homeless shelter.
- Participate in or help organize a community parade, picnic, or a block party.
- Start a campaign for more bike lanes, street lights, or walking paths in your town.
- Volunteer as a tour guide at your local museum or an art gallery.
- Volunteer at a day or summer camp as a counselor.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
- Volunteer to clean up trash after a community or neighborhood event.
- Volunteer to take care of animals at your local shelter or a neighbor’s pet while they are away.
- Ask friends and family to donate to a charity instead of giving you birthday and Christmas gifts.
- Volunteer to clean up a local playground or park.
- Join a charity run or walk.
- Plant trees and flowers to beautify your neighborhood.
- Volunteer to clean up yards of the elderly in your neighborhood.
Community Service Ideas for Adults
Community service not only is a great way to help people in your community, but also gives you an opportunity to get some projects done that you may have a special interest in. For example, if you ride your bike to work, you may wish to involve yourself with a group attempting to get more bike trails.
Adults benefit from participating in community service in four major ways:
- Community service creates fun and brings fulfillment.
Helping others makes one happy. Seeing that you have made a difference in someone’s life creates a feeling of self-worth in both the giver and the receiver.
- Community service helps you meet and connect with others.
Volunteers make new friends and feel that they are part of the community in which they live.
- Community service can lead to career advancement.
Volunteers learn and practice skills such as problem solving, organization, project planning and completion, teamwork, and effective communication. These skills can help you excel in your chosen career field.
- Community service helps your body and mind.
Studies have shown that volunteering reduces stress and depression. Additionally, many community service opportunities involve physical exercise that helps bodies stay active and healthy.
There are many places to volunteer and we have listed some of the best ideas for getting involved in community service.
- Adopt a stretch of a local road and clean it regularly or make it your task to clean the streets of your neighborhood.
- Write letters of encouragement and send them to soldiers.
- Donate non-perishable items to a local food bank.
- Run or walk for an event such as Relay for Life or Race for the Cure.
- Volunteer to help with Special Olympics.
- Work with your local chapter of Meals on Wheels delivering food to homebound individuals.
- Work registering people to vote.
- Tutor local school children after school and on weekends.
- Crochet or knit baby blankets and booties or make nightgowns for premature infants and donate them to a local hospital.
- Plan and organize a summer reading program for children at the local library.
- Volunteer to help with Vacation Bible School, summer camp, or a day care facility.
- Drive seniors to doctor and other appointments.
- Become a foster parent for children, cats, or dogs.
- Work with Habitat for Humanity building houses.
- Start a neighborhood watch program in your community.
- Create a recycling program at a local school.
- Become CPR certified and volunteer as a lifeguard at a community pool.
- Volunteer to be a crossing guard for a local elementary school.
- Repair and paint park benches, fences, and plant flowers in public areas.
- Organize and head a campaign for raising money to buy and install new park or school playground equipment.
- Campaign for more street lights, sidewalks, or bike trails for your community.
- Create boxes with everything necessary for a birthday party to donate to a local homeless shelter. Include a cake mix that only requires the addition of water, candles, balloons, party hats, and other decorations.
- Volunteer to speak at a career day at a local school.
- Volunteer to coach a sports team for a local church, park, or recreation center.
- Mentor a boy or girl in your community, helping them with school work and taking them on a monthly outing.
- Find a local group that hosts a weekend lunch program for low-income school children or begin one.
- Volunteer at a local non-profit managing their social media. You can write blogs, set up a Facebook page, and keep their web page current.
No matter what your age, you and those you love will benefit when you volunteer for community service. Parents set a good example when they think of the needs of others. Students learn responsibility and gain a sense of accomplishment when they help their communities. Older teens can volunteer doing a task they think might lead to a career choice to get some experience in a specific field. Colleges look at applicants’ record of achievements and volunteering makes a good impression on recruiters and college admission officers. Use our article to help you find a volunteer opportunity that meets you needs. You may end up starting a non-profit organization to help your community or the world. Get out there and help others by volunteering for community service!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.