Family Service Project Ideas: 30 Great Ways to Make a Difference

There is a difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure is often temporary, usually the result of getting something, and often motivated by selfish desires. However, joy most often comes as a result of selfless living and giving, is motivated from within, and is certainly much more than just temporary gratification because it is a rewarded feeling for actions taken to bless someone else’s life.

And ironically, this joy does not usually come from donations or monumental, recognized and massively impactful actions; in fact, it is the small, simple and often unrecognized actions that mean the most, make the biggest difference and produce what is often called ‘true joy’.

Our big challenge, therefore, is not necessarily to do everything on the list below; rather, it is simply doing something! Whether it’s one or ten items on this list, or one of the hundreds of other ideas not mentioned here, we as individuals, families, and as a society need to reconsider the self-oriented culture with which we are bombarded daily, and do a little more to participate in the small, simple and quiet actions that serve others and allow us to experience this ‘true joy’.

  1. Pick up litter around your local parks and churches, community buildings and areas, schools and historic sites, nursing homes and hospitals, highways and roads, etc.
  2. Volunteer at local shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, soup kitchens, schools, etc.
  3. Gather clothing, food, toiletries, toys and essentials and donate to your local charity, Church, Salvation Army or non-profit organizations that help developing countries.
  4. Host a car wash, raffle, contest, or fundraiser to raise money to be donated to help a local family, charity, or underprivileged people in other countries.
  5. Have fun and organize a service scavenger hunt race. Divide everyone into groups and each group has to do random things for people in the community: raking leaves, mowing lawns, shoveling sidewalks, picking up trash, sweeping sidewalks, etc.
  6. Go to a local hospital or nursing home and sing, read, put on a puppet show, make “get well” cards, or just visit the patients.
  7. Become a ‘pen pal’ or ‘sponsor a child’ from another country.
  8. Gather volunteers to help host families: help them clean, babysit or do a service for these people to help them.
  9. Volunteer at the next Special Olympics event in your area.
  10. Individually, as a group, or each person in the family, donate some money and give it to a local family in need, a charity or non-profit organization, or a local church.
  11. The next time you pass someone on the street who is needy, begging or homeless, stop and talk to them, give them some money or buy them food.
  12. Call, email, or visit a sick friend, neighbor, or relative.
  13. Volunteer in an after school program to help a struggling child. Read to them, help them with homework, play with them, talk to them, laugh and tell them stories, and be their friend. Do the same with an older person.
  14. Collect or make blankets for children and families in need locally.
  15. Go and volunteer at your local charities, nonprofits, Salvation Army, or Churches. Support the United Way, Red Cross and any other organization that helps others.
  16. Gather stuffed animals, toys, dolls, or fun games; clean them up and donate them to a local family, church or charity.
  17. Volunteer at a local library or school to help illiterate children or adults.
  18. Regularly visit people at the local development center, the blind, people with special needs, etc.
  19. Run or walk with friends for a charity that raises money to help people in need.
  20. Help with daily things around the house: do housework, help set the table, clean the house/room, make the bed, vacuum the floor, mow the lawn, take out the garbage, etc.
  21. Visit a neighbor in need and help them with yard work, house cleaning, wrinkles or whatever they need help with.
  22. Gather and collect old glasses and donate them to an organization that will give them to local or non-local people in need.
  23. Make a card and purchase a gift for a secretary at your local non-profit organization.
  24. Make dinner or cookies for a new neighbor, a friend or family member, a new or pregnant mother, someone who is sick or lonely, an elderly person, or someone in need.
  25. Offer to be a counselor at the next summer camp, boy scout event, community or church project, etc.
  26. Secretly clean the car, room, house, yard, etc. someone’s.
  27. Go and donate blood and volunteer at your local health clinic (or fair).
  28. Volunteer to do office work or any other useful project for your local church or non-profit organization.
  29. Invite new neighbors, a local youth group, new members of your congregation, seniors, or anyone else to your home for a fun game night.
  30. Go to the local hospital, nursing home or school and just spend time playing as a family with these people, groups or children in need.

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