5 family friendly service projects

Faith & Family

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Making pillows like these can be one service project your family can do. | Courtesy photo

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Teaching kids to love work and to be grateful for what they have are two of the hardest things parents do. Engaging children in service for someone other than themselves — or their parents — is an effective way to teach them to enjoy work and to appreciate their blessings.

Following is a list of fun service projects that families with kids of all ages can do together.

The kids won’t even know they’re working.

1. Clean a city street

Turn an early spring evening into an activity of cleanup and ice cream. Give each family member a garbage bag, work gloves and a good ‘ole “let’s getter done!” Attitude makes all the difference.

Stay close to home so the kids see their efforts every time they drive or walk by.

One scoop of ice cream for each full garbage bag would be an awesome reward for their hard work.

2. Make easy pillows or blankets to donate to the local hospital/children’s unit

Courtesy photo

See some easy patterns that do not require a sewing machine or needle and thread here and here.

Flannel or felt can be purchased at the local fabric or craft store. It’s usually cheaper when purchased off of the bolt in yards instead of in pre-cut squares.

Watch for sales on batting and fabric and/or use a coupon. Most craft stores offer coupons online.

One local family was able to make over 20 pillows to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City one Sunday while they were all enjoying the Big Game. All supplies were bought for just under $25.

Let each child choose one to keep for themselves as a reward and then donate the rest.

3. Plant flowers for a neighbor, friend or family member who is no longer able to do their own gardening

Stock photo

The older generation loves flowers but a lot are not able to manage their flower gardens like they used to.

A kind offer to do the work for them may be just what they need to brighten their day after a long winter. They may be willing to foot the bill to purchase the flowers or bulbs. The whole neighborhood benefits when all yards are nicely decorated.

Bring cookies and milk to celebrate a job well done.

4. Write, decorate and drop off thank you notes to the local police and fire departments

Stock photo

Our first responders can never receive too many kudos for the good work they do to keep our communities safe.

Some departments have policies that will not allow homemade goodies or meals, so keep it simple.

A handwritten card or note is sufficient to express appreciation for the sacrifice they make.

A bucket of vanilla ice cream and a variety of toppings dropped off at the fire station would be greatly appreciated, as firefighters are typically at the station for 24-hour shifts.

A simple goodie bag like the one suggested here is a perfect way to offer gratitude to police officers.

This activity will serve a dual purpose:

  • Teaching children to show appreciation.
  • Teaching children that police officers and firefighters are the good guys so that if they’re ever in a situation where they need to trust them with their lives, they won’t be afraid.

5. Build blessing kits to take to homeless shelters

You should include some or all of these much needed items, according to this list:

  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Bandaids
  • Deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Tissues
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Wet wipes
  • Comb
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Water
  • Beef jerky
  • Breakfast bars
  • Chocolate
  • Mints
  • Peanut butter crackers
  • Raisins/dried fruit
  • Snack cups
  • Tuna/chicken cracker packets

Consult with your local shelter for item suggestions specific to its facility. Put items in a Ziploc bag to accommodate for limited space.

These can be particularly helpful in times of natural disaster when many people are displaced from their homes.

Save some peanut butter crackers (or other snacks) for a treat afterwards.

In a self-centered world, teaching children to look outside of themselves contributes to society far beyond the acts of the service they perform.