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Service Projects

Service is a great way to engage young people. Many people enjoy doing acts of kindness for others, even those who do not enjoy other youth group activities. I find that on youth nights where we have service projects, I have more students attend. I try to mix up the youth nights to include service projects as much as possible.

Easy Low Prep Projects

Donation Collections: Find a local organization that could use some supplies right now. Some ideas are a food bank, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, group home, nursing home, pregnancy center. Ask for a list of needed supplies so you are sure to get their current needs. Many places have limited space, so it is best to stick with what they truly need. When you contact the organization, find out if they offer tours of their facility and/or an educational talk so your group can learn more about what they do. If they do not have on-site availability, offer to have a representative come talk to your group during a youth night.

Rake or Shovel: Gather a group of students and a couple of chaperones and see what homes in your community need help raking leaves or shoveling snow. ALWAYS be sure to knock on the door, introduce your group, and ask for permission before doing any work. Also be clear that you do not expect any money for your services. A SAFER ALTERNATIVE - Post a blurb in your church bulletin asking if any parishioners need help with either of these services to call you to schedule a time.

 

Make a Gift for Residents of a Nursing Home or Convent: Call a local nursing home or convent to see how many residents they have and ask if it would be okay for your youth group to make them something. Some items to make are lap quilts/blankets, ornaments, door wreaths, scarves, and walker/wheelchair caddies. Keep in mind that most nursing home rooms are limited in space. Knickknacks and non-useful items may not be well received. If the nursing home or convent is accepting visitors, schedule a visit to hang out with the residents when they drop their gifts!

Visit a Nursing Home or Convent: Call a local nursing home or convent to see if they allow visitors and how many they allow. You could have your group make something ahead of time to bring during your visit. Ask if your group could play bingo or checkers with the residents and bring the supplies needed - and prizes! You could also have your group sing or put on a show for the residents. Be sure to ask the activities director what works best for the residents. My youth love to meet with the elderly, especially the sisters!

Sponsor a Family for Christmas? If your church has a giving tree at Christmas time, have your youth group sponsor a family to make their Christmas brighter. 

Thank a Veteran: Call your local VFW or Veteran's Hospital and ask for a list of local veterans. Have your youth group send thank you cards or letters of appreciation for their service to our country.

 

Operation Christmas Child: Send Christmas gifts to children around the world through Samaritan's Purse. Find out more here 

Collect Items for a Local Animal Shelter: Call ahead and ask what supplies they need. Ask if it would be okay to make treats for them as well. You can find a recipe for homemade dog treats here. Find out if they accept visitors and schedule a time when your group can go visit the animals and give them their gifts.

Volunteer at a Local Animal Shelter: Call a local animal shelter to see if they allow volunteers and how many they allow at a time. You could have your group collect needed items to bring them. Some shelters need a lot of volunteers to help feed and groom their animals, and the youth love playing with them!

Kindness Rocks: Find some smooth river stones. You can find them at a craft store or a gardening center. Get some craft paint and paintbrushes, or use paint markers (less messy and easier to use, but more expensive). Have the youth create kind sayings of encouragement on the rocks. I found some samples I like here. You can make a few of your own samples for inspiration ahead of time. When the rocks have dried, break the youth into chaperoned groups and have them lay the rocks in spots where other people will see them. Remind them not to leave the rocks in grassy areas that need to be mowed, or areas where someone could easily trip on it.  You could also put them in the landscaping at your church where other parishioners can enjoy them.

Rock
Rake

Projects with More Prep Time

Service Day: Check with your parish to make sure this is allowed and what requirements there are for this before scheduling a Service Day. Schedule a date that works for your youth group. Put a blurb in your church bulletin asking if parishioners need any minor help around their homes. Some examples would be yard work, light painting projects, house cleaning, light home repairs, etc. Make sure to let them know the date and time of your Service Day. Meet with each parishioner that contacts you for help to find out what work they need done, if it is doable for your group, and what supplies are needed. Also, please make sure their home is safe for your youth. Go over any rules, guidelines, and expectations with the parishioners needing work done. Recruit your youth and as many adult chaperones as you will need. We divide the group into teams of 2 adults and about 4-5 teens so that we can accomplish more work and different locations. Have your group meet at a designated spot (your parish, local park, etc.) to get into groups, go over job descriptions and safety information, and pray before heading to your worksites. Be sure to either request they pack meals ahead or provide meals if working during a mealtime. Have the group meet back together at the end of the workday to wrap up together. Have the group discuss how they saw God working during the day and discuss their experience working for someone else. 

Blessing Bags: Gather Backpacks and supplies for our brothers and sisters who do not have a home.  Try to pack as many bags as you can. Ideas to fill the backpacks are granola bars, energy bars, tuna pouches, trail mix, raisins or dried fruit, gum and candy, fruit cups or paunches, nuts, water bottles, band-aids, hand wipes, hand sanitizer, wash cloth, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner, comb, chapstick, new socks, gloves. Be sure to include a Bible verse or a card of encouragement. Divide up the donated items between the backpacks you have collected. Take a group of well-chaperoned youth to an area where you know there are people living without homes to pass the blessing bags out to those who need them. We like to spend time with the recipients if they seem lonely or in the mood to talk. We learn a lot about how they got where they are and pray with them. If you have the time and resources, you can offer to take them to get a meal nearby, or purchase some fast food to bring with you.

Bags
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