50 Community Service Ideas for Families

three kids and woman watering a plant outsideGiving back to the community as a family is a fantastic way to teach kids how to be generous while spending time together. Here are 50 community service opportunities for the whole family.

Raise Money and Awareness

  1. Collect Donations - Ask for a donation to charity instead of birthday or holiday presents. Provide the organization’s name and nonprofit status so everyone can easily give.
  2. Get Moving - Run in a charity 5K. Find one that’s labeled a “fun run” to make it easy and enjoyable for everyone. If you have younger children who won’t be able to run the whole race, bring a jogging stroller.
  3. Lemonade Stand - Set up a lemonade stand and donate the profits to a cause that’s close to your family’s heart.
  4. Car Wash - Host a car wash at your house, business or church and donate the profits to charity.
  5. Pet Wash - Put on a pet wash and donate the proceeds to a local animal rescue.
  6. Advocate - Write a letter to your elected representatives about a cause that’s important to you, such as adding a speed bump in your neighborhood to combat speeding or prioritizing recycling in your school district.
  7. Bike to Work - Create posters promoting carpooling, bike riding or walking to school or work to cut down on traffic and air pollution. Post around your neighborhood and school campuses (ask permission first).
  8. Accessible Sports - Play in a wheelchair basketball game — or organize your own — with proceeds benefitting your favorite charity.
  9. Recruit Voters - Register people to vote through an organization like Rock the Vote.

Coordinate different types of women’s shelter volunteers with a sign up. View an Example

Collect Items for Those in Need

  1. Honor Service Men and Women - Put together letters and care packages for military members who are deployed overseas.
  2. Donate Toys - Have children round up their old toys to give to an orphanage.
  3. Clothing Drive - Organize a clothing drive where your family collects clothing from friends and neighbors to donate to the less fortunate.
  4. Consider Hospitals - Donate old devices, books and video games to a children’s hospital.
  5. Animal Shelters - Collect old sheets and towels to donate to a local animal shelter.
  6. Women’s Shelter - Gather old baby clothes and supplies to donate to a women’s shelter.
  7. Struggling Schools - At the beginning of the school year, buy extra school supplies to donate to the kids’ class for students who can’t afford it.
  8. Canned Food Drive - Organize a canned food drive in your neighborhood to donate to an organization that assists with disaster relief.
  9. Homeless Shelter - Donate old board games to a homeless shelter — and come back to play the games with the residents.
  10. Sports Organizations - Gather used sports equipment from your home, school or recreational center and donate to a charity like Leveling the Playing Field, which brings equipment to underprivileged communities
  11. Donate Blood - If you have teens 16 or older, go together as a family to give blood to a local blood center.

Schedule volunteers for a community service day with a sign up. View an Example

Get Hands-on

  1. Senior Centers - Take the kids to read to elderly residents at senior living facilities — the kids will sharpen their reading skills while making some cross-generational friends.
  2. Tech Class - Put on a free technology class where younger people teach older people to use technology like smartphones and laptops.
  3. Beautification - Adopt a mile of a local highway or help clean up a nearby park.
  4. New Trees - Help plant trees or plants in a section of the city that needs foliage. Check with local gardening clubs or your municipality to see where help is needed.
  5. Essential Kits - Put together small care packages with items like gloves, water bottles and protein bars to give to homeless people your family might pass on the street.
  6. Play with Pups - Walk dogs at a local animal shelter.
  7. Construction - Work on a home build for a charity like Habitat for Humanity.
  8. Art Supplies - Create “busy bags” with crayons, coloring books and puzzles for patients at a children’s hospital.
  9. Care for Neighbors - “Adopt” an elderly neighbor and help with yard work and other chores around the house.
  1. Sweet Treats - Bake cookies for the local police or fire station.
  2. Table Décor - Decorate placemats for a food assistance charity like Meals on Wheels.
  3. Assemble Blankets - Make blankets for kids in need through Project Linus (no sewing skills needed).
  4. Share the Joy of Reading - Read books to kids at a facility for at-risk youth.
  5. Farm to Table - Plant a small vegetable garden and donate the veggies you grow to a local food bank or make a meal to give to someone in need.
  6. Academic Support - Have the kids tutor fellow students after school.
  7. Welcome the Birds - Build a bird feeder for an elderly or otherwise homebound neighbor.
  8. Camp Counselors - Volunteer at a summer camp for children with illnesses and disabilities, like Victory Junction.
  9. The Gift of Music - Give free music lessons to less fortunate children (or adults) who wouldn’t normally be able to afford it.
  10. Focus on Health - Contact your local health department to find out about volunteering on flu shot clinic or child immunization days.
  11. Grocery Delivery - Deliver groceries to elderly neighbors. Often the bags are heavy, and they need help putting items away.

Plan a book club outreach day with a sign up. View an Example

Holiday-themed Help

  1. Sing-Along - Go caroling as a family at a senior living facility.
  2. Coat Drive - During winter, collect and donate gently used coats to a local coat drive.
  3. Holiday Spirit - Buy a Christmas tree for a less fortunate family and help them decorate it.
  4. Send Cheer and Joy - Make holiday cards for military members serving overseas.
  5. Sugary Gifts - Bake Christmas cookies for residents at a senior center.
  6. Gifts for All - “Adopt” a child or family from a Salvation Army Angel Tree or similar movement, and shop for gifts as a family during the holidays or for birthdays.
  7. Easter Project - Hide Easter eggs for a local children’s charity.
  8. Thankful Service - Volunteer together at a soup kitchen or other meal serving line on Thanksgiving.
  9. Share the Love - Make Valentines for people who wouldn’t normally get them, like residents at a nursing home or homeless people staying in transitional housing.
  10. Spooky Treats - Make treat bags to take to a children’s hospital or at-risk youth facility on Halloween.
Volunteering is a great way to help children realize how fortunate they are. It helps kids develop a sense of empathy with the added benefit of letting you spend time together. No matter how you choose to give back to the community, it will bring you closer as a family.

Sarah Pryor is a journalist, wife, mom and Auburn football fan living in Charlotte, N.C.