Are you looking for great community service ideas you can involve your daycare in?
There are lots of ways to help in your own community. As much as the community will be helped, the children themselves will also receive benefits.
Use the following community service ideas to help children learn about community responsibility, the concerns of others, and to give them the opportunity to remember what they are thankful for.
They will also meet positive role models (starting with you) and have increased self-esteem with the realization that they can make a difference.
As an added benefit, studies have shown that children who volunteer get better grades in school, and are up to 50% less likely to engage in destructive behaviors such as using drugs or alcohol. According to the studies, children receive benefits by spending as little as one hour a week volunteering.
Prior to actually choosing one of the community service ideas, talk to the children in your care.
One way of getting started with very young children is to read books about helping others. Suggestions:
The Berenstain Bears Lend a Helping Hand by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Ages 4-8.
The young bears learn a lesson about how good it feels to help others when they help the elderly Widow McGrizz.
The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth. Ages 4-8.
This is the story of a little boy and his hunt to find the secret to being a good person.
You can then share with the children what needs the community has, and how different community service ideas will help others. Help them to understand what the experience will be like. When the project is finished, ask them for feedback. What did they especially like about the experience, and what did they not enjoy as much?
Most types of volunteering are geared toward older children and adults. With a little creative thinking, however, very young children can become involved in helping others.
Create Doggie and Kitty Meals
A large bag of pet food and a box of sandwich bags are all you need to complete this project. Many of the participants of the Meals on Wheels program have pets. Unfortunately they can’t always afford to buy, or physically go to get, pet food when it is needed. Not wanting their pet to go hungry, they will give up a portion of their own home-delivered meal. Contact your local Meals on Wheels to see if there is a need in your area for this community service idea. Even the smallest children can help fill the bags.
Make a Quilt
If you are handy with sewing, good quality material can usually be found at thrift stores and yard sales. Create lap quilts for nursing home residents, or small quilts for children in women’s/homeless shelters. Older preschooler's can cut out pre-lined squares, and stack them in piles for easier quilt making.
Plant Garden Extras
Donate a percentage of your summer garden produce to your local food banks, soup kitchens, or other service organizations that help feed the hungry. Young children can participate in every aspect of this project. They can help with the initial planting, weeding, watering and harvest. After all the work, they will be extremely happy to go along for the actual donation trip.
Clean Up a Park
Even young children can help clean up a local park. They also can easily understand the need to have a clean area where all children can play. Just make sure all the children wear gloves and supervise them closely.
Make Activity Boxes for Sick Children
Decorate shoe-boxes in any way you like. Fill them with decks of cards, crayons, coloring pages, activity books, etc. and donate them to your local hospital.
Make Shoe-boxes for Kids
Our local church collects shoe box donations prior to Christmas. The shoe-boxes are gifts for children overseas who would normally not receive gifts. Empty shoe-boxes are filled with small items appropriate for children of a specific age and gender. We normally fill two boxes each year. One for a boy and one for a girl. Because my grandchildren help me, we make boxes for children the same age. We fill the boxes with small toys, personal care items (toothbrush, comb, etc.), books, hair accessories, T-shirts or whatever interesting item we find small enough to fit in the box. Decide how many boxes you would like to do, and ask parents for donations. Or, ask for cash donations and take the children shopping to choose the items.
Make Cards for Our Soldiers Overseas
Even the youngest children can draw pictures (or scribbles). Make cards for a soldier currently serving overseas. Be sure to include a card from yourself thanking them for serving. Send to a local community military member you know. If you do not personally know someone, local churches should be able to help you out with the name and address of someone who is serving.
Make a Meal for Firefighters
Contact your local fire department and offer to bring a meal. The children can help prepare the meal and be a part of the delivery. As an added bonus, you'll probably be treated to a short tour.
Collect Food for the Food Pantry
Ask each family to donate an item or two (or more) and take the kids along to drop off the donation.
Make Snack Bags for Kids
Community service ideas that let children help other children are normally a big hit. Children in homeless shelters do not normally have snacks. If there is a need in your area, this is a simple need to fill. Let young children decorate brown lunch bags. Fill with a juice box, packaged crackers and a toy surprise. Low-cost toys can be found at dollar stores, where you can get five in a pack for a dollar. I guarantee you will be bringing smiles to the faces of children.
Visit a Nursing Home
Take the children on a trip to your local nursing home. Many of the residents do not receive regular visitors. Contact the facility in advance. Some homes have “toddler days” that involve a snack, simple craft and lots of visiting time. Some will willingly schedule a convenient time for a visit. Bring along a plate of cookies to share. The elderly truly feel that children are special and enjoy the visit almost more than the kids do.
Help the Animal Shelters
Contact your local animal shelters. Typically they have a need for paper towels, newspaper, and old towels. Let the children know these items are needed to keep the animal cages clean and see how big a stack you can collect.
Here in Minnesota where the winters turn bitter cold, the United Way organizes Coat Drives. They accept “gently” used coats (meaning no stains, tears or broken zippers), boots, hats, mittens, and scarves for those less fortunate who are unable to buy their own. Even young children understand the need to be warm in winter and like the idea of donating their own out-grown winter wear to another child in need. A simple request to parents will more than likely bring plenty of donations for you and the children to deliver.
What special needs are in your area? Contact shelters, hospitals, and churches in your county to discover more ways to help. Look around and I’m sure you will find many more community service ideas to involve the children in your care.
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