This page will be your quick reference guide for Do-Gooder projects that are kid-friendly. My family has done some of them and if I’ve written about them I will include a link to my post. Share your experiences with these projects and ideas for future projects.
Donate Toys and Books
Chores For Charity
Make Snack Bags
Hold a Yard Sale
Hold a Lemonade Stand
Make it a Charitable Birthday
Hold a Bake Sale
Donate Extra Craft Supplies
Host A Clothesline Art Sale
Put a Playground on the Map
Pick Up a Ghabit
Donate Toys and Books: After birthdays or the holidays, allow your kids to sort their toys in books into piles for keeping or donating. You can allow this to be totally self-directed or can set goals for them. For instance, you can tell them they need to have at least 20 books or toys to donate at the end of their clean-up or give them a box to fill up. For older children, you can let them help choose the charity to which you’ll donate the toys. Check out Conquering Mount Toy for our experience!
Chores For Charity: The idea is simple. Set up a chore system for your children that allows them to earn money for charity. There are many different forms this can take. In our house it is a straight forward chore system. There are chores that must be completed on a daily basis and a dollar amount that is earned for doing the chores. Since my daughter is only 3, I choose the charity based on something that will resonate with her and choose a new charity each month to keep it fresh. If you have older kids, they can (and should) get involved in selecting the charity. Another variation is to allow the kids to choose the household chores and negotiate a price with you. Under this scenario, they could also offer their services to neighbors and other family members, raising more money for charity. I’ve written about this extensively on the blog. Here is a link to the Chores For Charity Archives.
Make Snack Bags: By decorating brown paper lunch bags and filling them with either purchased or home-made goodies, you can make someone’s day. You can purchase the lunch bags and art supplies at the Dollar Store (or use what you already have at home). Allow your children’s creativity to shine through – this is a great way to get them excited about the project. Once the bags are decorated, you fill them up with baked goods or homemade trail mix or purchased snacks. This is another opportunity for you to get creative together and the perfect volunteer opportunity for kids who love to help in the kitchen. When the bags are complete, deliver them to your favorite charity. Selecting a charity should be done ahead of constructing the bags so that you can ask what their needs are and if there are any restricted items, such as nut products or perishables. We made bags for our local Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms in the hospitals. You should also look into organizations that serve the homeless, provide meals to home-bound individuals, senior centers and youth programs that offer snacks to participants.
Hold a Yard Sale: If your children are old enough to help coordinate and lead the effort, this is a fantastic way to let them be fundraisers for charity. Give them the task of advertising (making signs and flyers to put up around town) and they can even recruit other families on the block to participate or collect items to sell. Together as a family, set up for the sale and price items and at the end of the day celebrate your earnings. Draft a letter to your charity of choice, have all members of the family sign it and include your donation. **NOTE: If your children procure donations from others, ensure that they write thank you notes to those who donated. **
Neighborhood Clean-up: We did this on Earth Day but it is always a good day to beautify your neighborhood. This is as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood with a bag (and maybe a pair of gloves to protect your hands) to collect litter. If your neighborhood is not walkable, visit a local park or playground. And while your at it, talk to your children about the importance of recycling and litter-prevention.
Organize a Lemonade Stand: This is the ultimate summer volunteer opportunity for kids! I am fairly certain that at some point in time, every child has set up their very own lemonade stand. Alex’s Lemonade Stand provides all the resources your kids need to step it up a notch and contribute to a worthy cause, finding a cure for pediatric cancer. Or, you can select a charity that is close to your heart and spread awareness about it while serving Lemonade to your community. Most groups will provide some informational material for you to distribute if you call to request it!
Make it a Charitable Birthday Party: Instead of collecting a mountain of presents on his/her birthday, your child can ask friends to bring a book to donate to a local library or literacy program. Or, perhaps he/she can pick a charity and ask friends to make a donation in lieu of a gift. Another way to make it a charitable birthday is to make a donation to charity in lieu of handing out favors. This is a chance for you and your child to be really creative and celebrate with a big heart!
Hold a Bake Sale: My kids love to bake and would happily spend all day in the kitchen if I obliged them. If your kids are little Pastry Chefs in-the-making, spend a day in the kitchen with them baking up a storm and then set up a bake sale for your favorite charity. If you are looking for something more organized, check out Cookies For Cancer. You can register your event on their site, get tips on organizing a bake sale, download their logo for posters and/or purchase a Bake Sale Kit for your event.
Donate Extra Craft Supplies: I don’t know about you, but I always buy too much when it comes to art supplies. When we finish a project, I look around at all the unopened supplies, slap my palm to my forehead and say, “Doh!” There are plenty of arts organizations that offer art therapy or art enrichment programs that are always looking for donations of art supplies. Typically, they want unopened supplies, but you can often find a classroom teacher who will take previously opened supplies that are in good shape. Here are some organizations to get you started: ArtBridge Houston; Children’s Healing Art Project; Fresh Artists
Host a Clothesline Art Sale: This is such a fun opportunity to let your children’s creativity shine and support arts initiatives in low-performing schools with underfunded art programs. Fresh Artists provides a step-by-step guide for children and their parents on how to get started. This could be part of a neighborhood wide yard sale, a project for your local playgroup, your child’s scout troop or class at school. Kids will love it because they are getting to create artwork and host their very own “gallery.” Time to get your child to practice their “when I am famous” signature!
Put Playgrounds on the Map: The Map of Play is a community generated play space finder and depends on volunteers to put playgrounds on the map. This is the ultimate family volunteer opportunity and perfect for children of any age. All you need to do to volunteer is sign up for an account on the Map of Play website. When you go to a new playground or park, snap some pictures and then ask your kids for their review of the space. Each time you add a play space to the map, you are helping other people find a great place to play!
Pick Up a Ghabit: Ghabit is short for Green Habit and is the creation of Milesh Jain, aka Dr. Ghabit. I love this concept of empowering children to be active participants in preserving the environment. By simply establishing a habit of turning out the lights upon leaving a room or walking to and from school, your children can be proud that they’ve reduced their carbon footprint and are actively helping the environment. So, get your family together and pick up a Ghabit. Carry a bag on your walks to collect litter, turn off the lights, use less water, walk more and drive less, the possibilities are endless and Mother Earth will thank you.