By Anne Powers

As we enter the spring and summer months, it is a great time to do some family service projects with your children. Be sure to reflect with your child about the needs that are being met and why it is important for us to help when we see a need. Your discussion with your children about these issues will further solidify learning about service.

1. Volunteer for a Meals on Wheels
Older people often do not get to share company with younger children. Meals-on-Wheels is in need of volunteers to deliver hot lunch meals to the homebound elderly. The parent will need to call to arrange a 45 minute orientation (good get even if you’re not sure of the date when you want to help). A route generally takes 90 minutes to complete. Volunteers can deliver once a week, once a month or anything in between. Click here for a listing of phone numbers for your area Meals on Wheels.

2. Pick up trash around parks, lakes, creeks, etc. Be sure to wear appropriate safety gear. You can visit the Keep America Beautiful website for suggested Triad areas that need cleaning. The website includes links and phone numbers for the individual Triad cities.

3. Take flowers to a shut-in or a recently widowed person in your church or community. You can even have your child decorate the vase. Use a mason jar. Purchase multi colored yarn and glue yarn around the jar. Contact a local nursing home to see if they have some residents in need of some sunshine! Be sure and ask them questions. For example: ask them to tell you what they used to do in the summertime when they were children.

4. Recognize and appreciate your local policemen or firemen.
Together with your child, make some baked goods and take them to the fire station or police station. Be sure to include a note of thanks that your child wrote or helped color! Drop it off without expecting a tour of the station!

5. Send a care package to a member in the military. Letters and gifts from home mean a lot. has some great ideas of how to do this.

6. Smart Start: Get your children to help you look for pre-school books that can be donated to Smart Start. Smart Start is dedicated to helping make sure all children Birth through 5 are ready to go to Kindergarten. They are especially in need of bilingual books. Smart Start serves every county in NC. Visit their website to get contact information for your area.

7. Visit a Nursing Home: Contact a local retirement home and arrange for you and a group of your friends with children to have story time, music time, or craft time with the residents. The residents will undoubtedly enjoy watching the children.

8. Car Ministry: Have your children help you make some bag lunches with non perishables which you can keep in your car. Give the snacks to homeless people you may come across. Include a note that says Have a great day!

9. Drive Thru Sunshine: Have the children make and decorate paper hearts. On one side write Have a great day and on the other side write “Thank you for what you do!” Keep a supply in your car and have the kids hand them to drive-thru workers before you leave the window.

10. Amani Children’s Foundation: Have an “Amani Birthday party” (pictured above) or sort beads which then are used to make beautiful necklaces to raise money for New Life Homes. Information:

11. Make Dinner: Together with you child, make a dinner for families at the Ronald McDonald House. There are locations near us in Winston-Salem, Durham, and Chapel Hill.

12. Collect items of need for people at Prodigals Ministries or Samaritan Ministries. With your children, deliver the items. Lists of needs and “items of the month” can be found at their websites.

13. Donate Food leftovers from vacation: Take your leftover nonperishable food items to a food collection site at the place where you vacation.

14. Start a Used Battery Collection service for your neighbors. Have your children go to your neighbors and request that they save their old batteries. Every month, collect the batteries and take them to a collection spot. One I found is 3RC Enviro-station at 1401 S. MLK Drive, across from Bowman Gray Stadium in W-S. (Note: Batteries leak toxic chemicals into the soil and need to be disposed of in a different way than just throwing in the trash.)

Thank you, Anne, for this wonderful list of ideas. These suggestions are great service projects for families to do this summer and throughout the entire year. There are so many opportunities for families to volunteer their time in the Triad. Please share any of your own ideas below.