Note: This post was originally published in 2010.
In addition to helping those that are in need, serving others will teach your kids empathy, responsibility, and team work. Win-win! Here, I’ve listed 10 simple mission project ideas to get you started. Tweak them to fit your family and community.
1. Make cards and deliver them to a local hospital or send them to missionaries you support. What kid doesn’t love to paint, glue, or draw? They can combine their art skills with an encouraging word or scripture and begin a lifelong habit of encouraging others. Be sure to check guidelines with hospital, many have limits on decorations or wording you can use. For instance, our local Pediatric unit asks volunteers to avoid writing, “Get Well Soon” and similar comments since many of their patients are terminally ill.
2. Assemble ready-to-go packs for the homeless. Fill brown paper lunch sacks with water bottles, wipes, non-perishable snacks, wash cloths, and an encouraging card and perhaps a couple of dollar bills or fast food gift card. Keep these in your car at all times so when you come upon a homeless person, you can have a pack ready to offer them.
3. Bake goodies for a hurting friend or neighbor. Learning early on to offer comfort to hurting or sick friends will help your kids become more compassionate and more aware of hurting souls around them while helping change the world, one person at a time.
4. Hold a clothing drive or coat drive for a local shelter. A few years ago, our church had a ministry that provided quality clothes to school children. My daughters and I made up a flier and passed it around our neighborhood, announcing that we would be back the following Saturday to pick up any donations left on porches. The next week, we were overwhelmed by the response! While we got to help out a terrific ministry, my girls also struck up conversations with many of our neighbors about the church and the ministry.
6. Begin a prayer ministry. My six year old brought a notebook to church recently to collect prayer requests. What a great ministry! Kids can collect prayer requests from friends, church members, and family in person or by email and commit to praying for them each day or on certain days of the week.
7. Secretly adopt a family. Choose a family to adopt for the year and find little ways to anonymously bless them. Offer to babysit, send gifts on the holidays, bring dinners, have them over for fun times, send a grocery gift card. Keep their specific needs and lifestyle in mind.
8. Volunteer at a local food bank. We were blessed with the opportunity to volunteer at a local food bank with kids as young as 6 years old. You can sort food, clean shelves, organize, clean the bathrooms, help with paperwork, and more.
9. Put together a program for a nursing home. Can your kids perform a song, a skit, or play an instrument? I was even part of a fashion show at our local nursing home back when I was a teenager. Many of these homes have activity directors that put on simple parties and gatherings for residents. See how your family can help! A homeschool group we were part of used to go caroling at nursing homes at Christmas time. Be creative!
10. Bless those who regularly serve others. Bring breakfast to your Sunday school teacher, offer to wash your worship leader’s car, present a prayer warrior with a hand-decorated journal, bring the church secretary hand-picked flowers, make cookies for your teacher, local fire station, or veterans group.
If you’re new to this idea of doing mission projects as a family, try to pick things that will suit your kids. What are their gifts? Are they artistic? Have them make cards for sick children. Super organized? Volunteer at a local clothing ministry or food bank. And don’t forget to consider their personality. A shy child might prefer to do acts in secret while an extrovert may enjoy performing at a nursing home.
While keeping your kids’ preferences in mind, remember that it’s okay to do things outside of their comfort zone, too. After all, that’s how most of us grow and learn what we’re capable of.
What kinds of service projects do you do with your family?