Is there anything more meaningful than serving together as a family? We are always on the lookout for great service opportunities that impact those we serve but also help our children feel the value of serving, helping and reaching outside themselves.
Projects that foster this kind of connection can be difficult to come by, especially if you have younger kids or little to no money to spend, but, as I learned at a Community Connections event put on a few weeks ago by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are so many ways families can serve TOGETHER!
I was inspired all morning by giving women in the greater Salt Lake area who are doing incredible things in their own organizations and for the community and world at large. When I asked each of them the question, “Do you have ways families can serve together?” Their immediate response was, “Yes!” and I couldn’t wait to share their ideas with you! While these organizations are in Utah, many have branches all over the country, so reach out to the ones closest to you! (all organizations linked so you can easily find more information and schedule a time to help)
- Decorate food boxes for seniors: Go to the food bank and grab a few boxes to decorate with markers, stickers, and encouraging words. Return them to be used to pack food for seniors who could use something to brighten their day!
- Volunteer for family night: On Monday nights, bring the entire family (as young as 5) to work a shift sorting and packing at the food bank. Be sure to schedule these nights in advance because they do fill up quickly.
- Volunteer any time: For kids 12 and older, there are lots of shifts at the food bank that could use your help! Sign up for one today.
- Food Box Deliveries: Deliver boxes of food to those who cannot make it to the food pantry.
- Sound the Alarm Campaign: The American Red Cross uses a large majority of its time and resources to respond to and help people recover from home fires! In order to mitigate this problem, they have started a campaign to install free smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods. You and your children can help in this effort by raising money, canvassing areas, or installing smoke alarms.
- Donate Blood: Parents can bring their children 16 years old and up to donate blood at any of the American Red Cross donation centers. These blood banks are vital to saving lives during a disaster. Start a life-saving tradition in your own family.
- Assist in Yellow Ribbon Events.
- Mentor a Refugee Family: CCS pairs your family with a refugee family and you spend 3-5 hours per week helping them get acquainted to life in the United States. You may help with grocery shopping, meal prep, parent teacher conferences, or just being a friend.
- Serve food at the soup kitchen (must be 12 or older and accompanied by parent).
- Stock shelves and organize food at the Hall Food Bank.
- Deliver food boxes to elderly and shut in clients.
- Volunteer for yard work or maintenance of the Catholic Community Services buildings.
- Make baby blankets for new mothers who are struggling.
- Volunteer to do snow removal or lawn care for any of the CCS locations.
- Hold food drives, birthday bag drives, school supply drives, weekend food bag drives, hygiene kit drives and put them together.
Junior League of Salt Lake City
- Collect professional clothing for women transitioning back into the workforce.
- Help sort clothes and outfit women with new professional attire (girls and women only): Saturdays 10am-1pm/Tuesdays 5:30-8:30pm
- Help sort and organize clothes after hours (all welcome): Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm.
- Collect, sort and distribute food to needy families: many open volunteer hours for older children and adults. Take the opportunity to tour and learn more about the pantry.
- Attend family night: Every Monday night, bring your entire family (kids included) to help sort and stock shelves and make pantry packs!
- Adopt a family for Christmas: The Bountiful Food Pantry offers personal connections to provide Christmas for a needy family.
- Collect and organize grocery bags from neighbors for use at the pantry.
- Collect egg cartons for use at the pantry.
- Write kind notes or cards to place in pantry packs.
- Make birthday party kits (cake mix, frosting, candles, balloons) and deliver them to the pantry.
- Knit or crochet hats, scarves, mittens, socks, blankets, or quilts.
- Collect and donate children’s books that are in good condition that families can take from the food pantry.
- Take a tour of the pantry, learn about homelessness and hunger and how you can help.
- Collect Medical Supplies: Simple medical supplies (found at drug stores) are always needed at the 4th Street Clinic (no medications but first aid items like band-aids, tape, gauze, safety pins, tweezers, rubbing alcohol, distilled water, splints, cotton balls, cotton swabs, petroleum jelly, hand sanitizer, tissues, anitbiotic ointment, aloe vera, cough drops).
- Tour the facility: When dropping off your collected items, the staff is willing to schedule a time to take you on a tour of the clinic and help explain homelessness to you and your children.
- Bring the entire family and join the spring clean up party for Camp Roger and Mill Hollow. Have a blast in the outdoors while beautifying the camp for kids who can’t wait to experience summer camp.
- Donate your time to any organization in your area looking for help! JustServe.org matches volunteers with organizations that are looking for help. You can look through the list and find an opportunity in your area that your entire family can be a part of! Such an incredible new resource.
- Attend a refugee cultural night: While this is not a service opportunity, it is a great way to expose your children to different cultures and experiences.
- Participate in the Know Your Neighbor Program: This is a great way to get to know the refugees in your area and help them find success in their new area.
- Put on a dinner, carnival, or holiday activity for refugees: More information and details can be found by contacting the organization.
- Donate money, gas cards, and new items needed with each changing season.
Rest Homes and Nursing Homes
- Bring the kids and sing their favorite songs or carol through the halls…no need to wait for a holiday!
- Make cards and paintings for the residents and deliver them to those who don’t get very many visitors.
- Put on a musical performance for the residents. Have your older children play the piano or violin or sing.
- Bring an easy craft to the facility and teach the residents how to make something.
- Adopt a grandparent: Find out who needs consistent visitors and try to visit and get to know them on a regular basis.