One of the most impactful ways to bond as a family is to serve others as a team. Connecting to a higher purpose is a great way to deepen your family relationships, encourage gratitude, teach kindness, and bless others in the process. Check out these great ideas for giving back that can work with any schedule or budget.
1. Serve food at a Homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
This is a great way for your whole family to serve together and actually interact with the people they are helping. There’s nothing like building relationships with people to move past fear and extend love.
2. Gather & donate baby items to a Crisis Pregnancy Center.
Search online for pregnancy centers near you. Some of them list their needs on the website. If not, give them a quick call or send an email asking for what items they are most in need of. I worked with a Crisis Pregnancy Center that had a great Christmas program for families where you could sponsor a family in need and purchase presents for their kids. You could go in with some other families you know and provide gifts for an entire family at Christmas!
3. Sort Clothes at the City Mission.
If you have time beforehand, you can even let your kids choose some of their own clothes that they don’t wear anymore to donate. Then go as a family and volunteer for an hour or two.
4. Offer to do a project or serve at an event for a Local church or non-profit.
Churches and other organizations have lots of opportunities to serve all year round. Just give one a call and ask if there are any events coming up that need volunteers (make sure they allow kids if you’re bringing the whole family) or if there’s a certain project you could help with independently. Chances are they will be more than happy to find a place for you! Some things you can offer include: serving food at an event, cleaning, stuffing envelopes, etc.
5. Bake cookies or pick up a bouquet of flowers and give them to a neighbor.
This one seems so simple, and yet it can have a powerful impact on people. As our society has become more and more technology-centered, people interact with their neighbors less and less. Some friends of ours recently took flowers to an elderly neighbor, at their 3 year old’s request, and the woman was so overwhelmed with their expression of kindness that she broke down crying at the door. Let your children see the power of small acts of kindness. Better yet, let them decide what to give and who to give it to!
6. Sing songs or bring handmade crafts to a local nursing home.
The majority of folks in nursing homes have little to no visitors. So a little touch like a handmade craft (or ornament at Christmas time) that your kids made or some fresh baked (or bought) cookies can brighten their entire week! Just call ahead and see if there are any restrictions on what you can bring or when.
There was one time we brought candy cane shaped paper ornaments and one of the residents tried to eat it. 😉 Another idea is to have your kids practice a song and then sing it to the residents (either room to room or in a common area). You can even team up with some other families and sing songs or hymns and go “caroling” to the various rooms. No matter how well you do (or don’t) sing, people will absolutely love it and most likely sing along with you.
7. Bring donuts, pizza or baked goods to your local police station or fire department and say thank you.
Not only will your kids LOVE visiting a police or fire station, but it’s a great way to show our local helping professionals how much we appreciate them.
8. Bring dog treats to your local Animal Shelter.
If your kids love animals, let them give back to your local shelter! Many shelters will have a “wish list” of items they need available online or by phone. Or let your kids pick out a sealed bag of treats from the pet store and bring that.
9. Organize a coat drive in your school, church or neighborhood.
As the weather grows cold in many areas, coats, hats & gloves become a desperate need for many of the homeless in your community. There are a number of organizations, from the city mission to homeless shelters to churches and the like that gladly accept new or gently used coats. Just search online for “how to organize a coat drive” and let your kids help make it happen.
10. Purchase food items and donate to a local Food Pantry.
Food pantries also accept toiletries, paper goods, and a variety of other items you may not think of beyond just canned goods. Give each of your kids a budget (better yet, let them earn and spend their own money), and go to the store to pick out items to donate.
Bring your kids with you to drop off the items and ask a worker to show you around and tell you about how it works. If you have enough time, consider volunteering a few hours.
11. Make a meal and bring it to someone who needs it.
A friend who just had a baby, an elderly person who can’t get out much, a single mom, or another busy family that would love a night to not have to think about dinner. If you don’t have extra time to cook, pick something up!
I love to snag online promo codes for 20% off at Bob Evans and pick up a Family Style meal. You can even order it online and pick it up with curbside service. Food speaks to the soul and it’s such a simple, yet impactful, way to demonstrate love to others.
12. Find a program like Angel Tree or Toys for Tots and let your kids pick out a toy to give to a child in need.
This was one of my favorite ways to give back as a kid! Every year, our family participated in the Angel Tree drive. Each of us kids would choose a tag off the tree. The tag had an age, gender, and sometimes the child’s wish list on it.
Then we would go pick out a toy and an outfit, wrap it up and donate it for the child to open on Christmas. There was even one year that my dad was out of work and Angel Tree gave gifts to US! It really helped us understand how much that kind of thing means to families in need.
If it’s not Christmas time, check about donating toys for kids in local hospitals instead!
Not sure which one to choose? Have each family member nominate their favorite option and put all the favorites in a hat. Choose two out of the hat and have each family member cast a vote for their favorite of the two.
Whatever you do, take time this season to give back as a family. Not only is it a fun way to bless others, but you may just find yourselves encouraged and blessed in the process.
Like this post? You may also enjoy…
- How to Shape Your Family Culture
- 5 Ways to Connect with Your Kids in 5 Minutes or Less
- 8 Reasons Discipline is Way Better than Punishment
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