Beyond the




V Is for Volunteer: Community Service Projects for Kids

Box of toys for toy drive

Whether it's the holiday season or not, these activities will teach your students the spirit of giving.

Instill the value of community service projects in your students by encouraging them to give to and help others. There are many ways to do this in the classroom and at home.

Further Reading: A Simple Way to Teach Kids How to Do Group Work

During the holidays, this was a popular theme in my classroom, but students should understand that the value of volunteering can be year-round. Through projects, show the kids how they can gain an immeasurable feeling of satisfaction knowing that they helped someone or something.

Start with a Special Bulletin Board

I liked having bulletin boards in my classroom to emphasize our themes, and this was a great place to promote community service projects.

We started by creating a "Hands Up for Humanity" bulletin board for our volunteer lessons. On background paper, we drew a tree trunk and limbs. This was painted brown. With a sheet of green construction paper given to each child—you can alter the color if you want a fall or spring tree—my students traced and cut out their hands. As I discussed the many ways a person can volunteer or help a charity, each student selected one way they'd like to help others and wrote this idea on their paper hand. We attached all the hands to the branches of our painted tree. It became a tree of love, compassion, and caring for one another. Then, as a class, we tried to complete as many of the ideas as possible. Some community service projects called for help from parents and were done at home.

Another bulletin board idea is to create a large flowerpot in the center of your wall board. The children can write their ideas on their paper hands, as above, and add green stems and leaves to create flowers. Adhere the numerous flowers to the inside of the flowerpot and title this board "Helping Hands Make Us Grow."

Community Service Ideas

Beautify the Community

  • Clean up litter around the school property and playground.
  • Plant flowers or bulbs around the school.
  • If your school has extra land, plant a garden and share the harvest with a shelter. Encourage students who live in houses with yards to do the same at home.

Initiate Collections and Drives

  • Collect grocery coupons to give to a local food bank.
  • Plan a food drive. Collect canned goods to donate to a local food bank.
  • Start a recycling program in your classroom. Collect all plastic, paper, and cans from lunch.
  • Make "I Care" kits by filling plastic sandwich bags with combs, toothbrushes, shampoo, etc., for homeless people and soldiers. Students can bring in donations from home.
  • Donate to a clothing drive. Parents and children can clean out their dressers and closets by giving away outgrown shirts, pants, shoes, coats, and mittens.
  • Bring in a new toy for the Toys for Tots program.
  • Collect dog food, treats, and comfy quilts to donate to animal shelters.
  • Parents and children can bake cookies—especially during the holiday season—and distribute them to shelters, the elderly, or other needy community members.

Further Reading: Build School Community with a Photography Blog

Spend Time with Disadvantaged Community Members

  • Make cheerful cards to send/take to nursing homes and hospitals. Think about sending these cards to the military as well.
  • Present a program to entertain the elderly at nursing homes.
  • Older students can help tutor younger children with their studies.
  • Read books to students who are visually impaired.
  • Start a buddy system where students can help children with special needs at your school.