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As a parent, we all know that one of the best ways to teach kids how to do things is to model it for them. So if we want our kids to be comfortable helping others, we need to show them that behavior often. For most parents, the struggle isn't to get their kids to participate in service projects. The struggle is to find service projects that are good for kids to do. That task can be even harder in the winter months when days are short and temperatures are low.
Here are some ideas for family service projects that you can do this winter.
1. Feed the wildlife.
There are lots of really cute ideas and recipes for making your own bird feeders on the internet. They range in difficulty from peanut butter on a pinecone to star shaped baked birdseed treats. My kids are perfectly happy spreading peanut butter on pinecones so you can guess where I fall on the Pinterest scale for this project.
2. Deliver cards to the nursing home.
My kids are craft fiends.
They love making things with other things. For Christmas my aunt bought them 3,000 stickers, and I'm struggling to remember what I did to make her so mad at me.
If your kids are anything like mine, getting them to make cards for the nursing home residents will be easy. Getting them to clean up the mess probably won't be.
When we get to the nursing home, we just ask the front desk which residents could use a visit. They know their people and will be able to bring you to the ones who need some visitors the most.
And yes, it is often awkward. But that's okay. You're teaching your kids to do uncomfortable things for the benefit of someone else.
3. Deliver baked goods to your neighbors.
This project is another one that you can make as easy or difficult as you want. Just keep in mind that the point is to do it with your kids. Here's what I mean. I make these really great layered bar desserts. They're gooey and chocolatey and really Pinterest worthy. They're also very time consuming and parts of the recipe require counting for a set amount of time while stirring at a low simmer. If you mess that part up, the bars are ruined.
It is not a good recipe to do with four little helpers in the kitchen.
So when we bake desserts to share, we almost always do Pillsbury brownies. And I'm able to actually let my kids help without any worry that they'll mess them up. For an even easier dessert, we sometimes make place and bake cookies.
The point of a service project isn't to slave away in the kitchen to present a Food Network-worthy dessert to your neighbor. The point is to work with your kids to make something good for someone else. Then to go with your kids and talk to your neighbors. To build a relationship with the people who are living life near you and to let your lives overlap for a minute. Invite them to church. Ask if you can send your husband back to clean out their gutters. Pray with them.
Bringing brownies is great, but you'll never be able to meet any of their real needs if you don't know their needs. And people aren't real quick to share needs with strangers. They share those with friends, so you've got to get out and make friends.
God didn't intend for us to live life inside of a holy little bubble. He wants us to get out and truly love our neighbors even if we're just bringing them brownies made from a box. Those are actually my favorite kind anyway.
Halee is a former public school teacher who now has the joy of being a stay-at-home-mom to her four children. She is a pastor’s wife who is far from perfect but strives to be more like Christ each day. In her very limited free time, Halee likes reading, writing, and baking. You can follow her family’s adventures in vocational ministry on her blog at www.fishbowlfamily.com.