I get a lot of emails asking me if I have any ideas for service projects. Oh boy, do I ever! A lot of people want to volunteer and make a difference in their areas, but feel really overwhelmed finding a place to start. I compiled a big, fat list of holiday service project ideas that you and your families can do for the holidays!
1. Volunteer at St. Vincent De Paul in their "dock loading" area. Our Shine kids love it. Many people volunteer to be in the soup kitchen, but they are always needing help unloading dropped off items in their docks.
2. Make Christmas cards to send to troops overseas. Go to Operation Gratitude to get started.
3. Your child wants a pet for Christmas? Adopt a homeless furry friend from a local animal shelter. We did, and Oliver is the best dog ever!
4. Have a holiday baking party. Get together with friends and bake holiday treats to take down to a local homeless shelter, fire department, or inner city school so they can have a holiday party.
5. Go to the dollar store and get items to stuff stockings with. Keep the stockings in your car, and whenever you pass a mom battling a screaming child, someone who looks stressed, a homeless person, your post man, whoever, give them a stocking.
6. Put a little treat or card together for the next Salvation Army bell ringer you see. Those people are out there all day long trying to raise money, I think they should be thanked.
7. If you have children, talk to them about a world cause that they are interested in. Help them find a charity to donate to. Have one of their presents be a donation in their name so they can learn how to give, and feel the power behind it.
8. Skip out on buying presents for the family this year, and do a nice Christmas for a family who otherwise would not have it. Doing this makes my Christmas completely unforgettable.
9. Perform a Christmas program for a nursing home.
10. Go caroling, and leave cookies with each house. Here's a great list of 20 of the best Christmas cookie recipes!
11. Have kids and teens offer a gift-wrapping service and donate the money to a charity. They can also raise money by watching neighbors kids while they go holiday shopping.
12. Shovel snow from a neighbors sidewalk.
13. Help an elderly person put up Christmas lights.
14. Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children. They have several locations around the U.S, and you help box food to send to kids around the world. Our Shine students LOVE doing this.
15. Buy gifts that give back. Anyone heard of Threads? ;)
16. Leave a quarter in a gum-ball machine with a note on it that says Merry Christmas.
17. Have more packages than the guy behind you at the post office? Let him go first.
18. For your company or family holiday party, have a craft station where journals, friendship bracelets, cards, etc can be made. Send them to a local foster care group in your area.
19. Decorate a tree in a populated area for people passing to enjoy.
20. Have your Elf on the Shelf do acts of kindness for family members, and have him leave a note that tells them to pass it forward.
21. Winter cleaning! Clean out your closet and donate old hats, gloves, coats, and shoes to shelters for the cold months.
22. Make easy tie blankets to donate to shelters. Tutorial here.
23. Pass out cups of hot chocolate to people waiting in the cold for the bus.
24. Decorate the halls of a hospital.
25. Find out the needs of a children's hospital, and meet them.
26. Keep off the holiday pounds and support a charity by running in a 5k in December. Choose a run that benefits a specific charity.
27. Have each member of your family commit to helping 4 people throughout the week. This will help get them thinking about serving others. Share what you did and how you felt with each other
28. Volunteer at a local library. They always need help!
29. Make sandwiches and sack lunches for a homeless shelter.
30. Make a meal for families in Ronald McDonald Homes
31. Donate a decorated tree to a shelter. Or, take a tree to a shelter and help decorate it with them.
32. Help those affected by Hurricane Sandy rebuild their lives.
33. Paint a mural over graffiti
34. Make sure the elderly people you know have what they need when there is bad weather.
35. Organize a food scavenger hunt with friends. Make a list of food items they must find from neighbors, friends, etc, and create a fun competition. Donate the food collected.
36. Are you good at couponing? Use your skills to collect a bunch of necessary food and toiletry items for a shelter.
37. Help carry groceries to your neighbors door.
38. Recycle all your wrapping paper.
39. Introduce yourself to new families on your street.
40. Invite someone to dinner who you know is going to be alone on the holidays. My sister took Thanksgiving to a man at her work when she found out he was in his 50s, has never been married, and hasn't had Thanksgiving since the 1980s. He told her that meal was the thing he was most grateful for this year.
41. Help fix a run down play ground, and use chalk to write, "Santa was here."
42. Donate gently used books to a children's hospital.
43. Give love to a sweet 5-year-old boy named Isaac Strong who is battling cancer. Click here for details on how you can help.
44. Buy the person's drink behind you at Starbucks.
45. Let your friends and family know how much you love them.
46. Clean your church.
47. Leave 12 days of Christmas for a family in need.
48. Make homemade ornaments for co-workers and thank them for what they do.
49. Go out of your way to meet someone new.
50. Make Nutella cinnamon rolls and give them to the school crossing guard.
51. Give easy, DIY scarves to a battered women and childrens shelter. Tutorial here.
Give love this holiday season! Any ideas that I missed? Share them with us below!