Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Organize a Service Project...with your kids!

So many people talk about how to organize different community service projects, and maybe they even give you good ideas, but do they explain how to do it WITH your kids? 

I find it very important to include my daughters in service (even at their super young ages).  I want to teach them how happy it can make them & others.  I want to teach them to give back to others.  I want to teach them to forget about themselves & to put other's needs first.    BUT, I don't want to always be the one who plans the service projects & drags my kids around.  I know that if I include them in the planning, they'll be more excited to serve.

I also love to plan events.  In fact, being an event planner is on my top 3 dream jobs.  So, I combined these 2 passions to share with you how to go about organizing a community service project (of any kind!)... WITH your kids.

1.  Define the need
(the who & what)

If you are wanting to organize some sort of community service project, you'll need to decide what is needed & who to give it to.  It doesn't necessarily have to be in that order, it can be who to help & then figure out what help they need.  For example, if you are doing a Back To School Drive, like Brittanie, you'll need to contact different agencies & ask them what their biggest needs are currently.

If you are doing this with your children, tell them about 3 or so different agencies, or needs/cause & then you can let them chose which they feel the most connected to.  If they have a choice in the matter (and a story to tie with it), they'll be a lot more excited about helping.

2.  Decide on your time commitment & availability
(large scale or small scale)

You'll need to decide how much time you & your child have to dedicate to this cause.  Depending on what you decide, this service project can be something that you & your children do together in one day, or you can invite those in your mommy play group to help, or you can make it a full blown, city/state/nation-wide event that takes a couple of months to plan. 

3.  Organize the details
(dates, location, budget, etc.)

Who can participate?

I'm all about including your kids in service projects (in case you haven't noticed...), but don't forget that there are some projects that have certain age requirements.  For example, I know of an awesome non-profit in Northern Utah called Resolution Horse Company, but they can only accept limited help of those under the age of 18.  Be sure to talk to the organization about the ages of those who will be involved so that there is no confusion & you can make the most of every minute serving.

With that said, most service projects welcome help from children of all ages as long as they have an adult with them.

4.  Make goals

Children love to make & reach goals.  Just be sure the goals are very realistic especially considering the time you have available to dedicate to this project.  There doesn't even have to be a reward if they meet their goal.  If you make goals related to your service project WITH your child, once again, they'll be more excited about this project.  If you don't meet your goals, be sure to still make it a positive experience for your child by reminding them how much they helped so & so, or how many people this affected.

5.  Get the word out
Publicize, publicize, publicize!  

Possibly the easiest way to get the word out now-a-days is through social media.  (thank you, social media!)

  •  Let everyone know about your event via your fb or twitter pages & ask people to help spread the word for you! 
  • Create a FB Event
  • Contact Local Bloggers & ask them to post about your event on their blog or fb page (hint, hint... you can ask me!  In fact, I have a spot on my right side bar reserved just for advertising service projects!)
  •  Have your children pass out fliers in their neighborhood, at local churches. 
  • Ask a local business to get involved (who would say no to a kid!?) (hang up a flier there, leave some by cash registers, or ask them if they'd like to donate or sponsor the event)
  • Leave fliers at a grocery store or at a library
  • Call a local radio station & ask them to announce the event or invite them to the event. 
  • Enlist help from churches, youth groups, service organizations, mom's groups, family etc.
  • Email everyone in your address book.  Your child can write it (or help write it).  Email is also a very low pressure way to ask for help for those of you who are not quite as bold.

6. The Day Of

Be sure to be on time, prepared & organized.  If possible or if needed, bring supplies like water or donuts to thank your volunteers.  This is not necessary of course, but it would sure bring a smile to my face!  Do remember to think about the kids that will be helping & if they will have any extra needs.  Then you're off to sort & deliver the products with a smile :)

7. Don't Forget!

Write thank you cards.  I think this is often the most overlooked step, though often the most important.  It can be something as simple as a piece of paper that you can hand to them the day of.  I personally think that handwritten & mailed thank you cards are so much more meaningful, but to be honest, anything is better than nothing.  At least sign some sort of thank you card & don't forget to have your child sign them, too. 

(nothing is better than little kid handwriting or a picture they drew... besides, it will give your child some great penmanship practice writing their name)

If you need some cute cards, check out one of my favorite sites, Tiny Prints.  I've ordered many thank you cards from many different places, but I love the uniqueness, quality & ease of Tiny Prints


So many people think in the back of their mind that just because they aren't currently part of an organization, they can't plan a service project, but guess what... YOU CAN!  And there are so many things (big & little) that you can do with your children to teach them to help & love others.  In many of my upcoming posts, I'll take (what for me is) the hard part out of doing this with your kids.... coming up with ideas!  I have several projects lined up that I am excited to share with you & I hope they get you & your kids more excited to get out & serve.

Now let's get some ideas brainstorming... comment below on some service projects you have done (or want to do) with your kids!

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