“For it is by Grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10
As humans we are sinful and basically only want to do things that benefit us or someone or something we love. Therefore, doing anything that will help others but not help us would not interest us. For example, if we have no children or grandchildren that would use the local community playground. We would have no desire at all to help build or fix a playground.
As Christians knowing God loves us even though we don’t deserve it (grace), we would be more like Christ if we were to want to help build or fix that same playground.
Community Service Can Make Volunteering a Lifelong Habit
Overall, volunteerism is on the rise across the country, and there are many websites designed specifically for teens and tweens to help inspire them to step outside their world and help others. According to IndependentSector.org, 59 percent of teenagers volunteer an average of 3.5 hours per week: that’s 13.3 million volunteers totaling 2.4 billion hours at a total value of $7.7 billion.
signupgenius.com/church/community-service-youth-groups.cfm contains Community Service Ideas for Youth Groups. One of the largest organizations in the country for teens and social change says this about the 13 to 18 year-old set: “We love teens. They are creative, active, wired… and frustrated that our world is so messed up. We need to harnesses that awesome energy and unleash it on causes teens care about.
Being outdoors is important to many Pioneers and their parents, and there are numerous community service options that allow kids to do so. Parks, waterways, paths, bike paths are all areas that can be maintained with volunteer effort.
To narrow the numerous volunteer options, Pioneers should first have a conversation with their parents to understand the causes they all care about. Is he passionate about animals? Then maybe helping at their town’s animal shelter is something he’d get excited about as an example. Each child has his own personality and interests—and parents should tap into those interests to ensure the community service project has an impact.
Here are 5 ideas for community service options for young and older Pioneers:
1. Animals: Local animal shelters are always in need of volunteers even for simple tasks such as cleaning cages, answering phones, or making holiday decorations for the shelter waiting room. Contact a local shelter and speak with a volunteer coordinator to see what help is needed. Don’t have a local shelter or a way for your child to get to one? Have her visit DoSomething.org and sign up for “Pics for Pets,” a soon-to-be-launched campaign where volunteers snap photos of pets waiting to be adopted, which shelter staffers say can double an animal’s chance of finding a permanent home.
2. Seniors: Every community has senior citizens who would relish the time and help that a Pioneer could lend. Most towns and cities have a senior center or a private nursing home where volunteers are needed. The recreation director who helps plans activities for the seniors is a good person to contact. Even a small amount of time with a senior can make a difference. A Pioneer could adopt a senior citizen as a “grand-friend” and write letters to him. Raking leaves or shoveling snow for a senior citizen is often a welcome way to help. Even just going for a walk with an elderly member of the community, delivering them a meal, or reading to an elder who is housebound can make their day—and give your child some meaningful community service hours.
3. Helping other kids: For student athletes, a great way to give back to others is to volunteer at a Special Olympics event. There are hundreds of Special Olympics offices around the world, and all of them need volunteers at various times during the year. Find the Special Olympics office nearest your home. Pioneers can help out at the actual sporting events as well as get involved in Special Olympics Project UNIFY. This is an education-based project where all youth are agents of change—fostering respect, dignity, and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities.
4. Troop support: Volunteering to help support active duty U.S. servicemen and women is a great initiative for tweens and Pioneers. Begin by contacting an organization that ships packages to troops, such as Operation Gratitude or Operation Troop Support. These and other organizations collect donated items, which they package and send to individually named service members deployed in hostile regions. The donated items can include snacks, entertainment items, and personal letters of appreciation, as well as small items like socks, decks of cards, candy, and even toothbrushes. Pioneers can organize a donation drive and collect some of the most needed items. As the holidays approach, these organizations are also looking for volunteers to help wrap gifts to ship to servicewomen and men, and kids can also write cards and draw pictures to include in the packages. “For the soldiers, receiving the cards is truly priceless,” says Christine Moody of Operation Troop Support.
5. The environment: Many Pioneers care deeply about the threats facing our environment and may have an interest in helping their community “go green.” Community service ideas include planting a neighborhood garden or a tree for all to enjoy (with proper municipal permissions, of course); launching a campaign to get friends to put their computers and other electronic devices in sleep mode before going to bed, thereby saving energy; organizing (or participating in) a community cleanup day; or helping clear hiking trails or performing beach cleanups.
These are just five ideas. There are countless other things that can be done to be of service to others.
- Participate in a
service project that:
- Helps the poor in
- Food Drive
- Baby food / Diaper drive
- Clothing Drive
- Helps the poor in the community
- Participate in a project that helps an organization at your church.
- Prior approval of the Pioneer leadership team is needed before any project is started.
- A final report on what was collected, how much was collected, who was helped and the names of the people who helped is required for all projects.