Participating in community service projects is a great way to give back to your community. In some cases, working on these types of projects can involve activities that require you to raise money, but not always. Some of these types of projects simply require time and a commitment to sharing your skills and abilities to improve the community where you live or to make life a little better for someone who is less fortunate than you are.
Simple Service Projects for Elementary School Students
Incorporating service projects into school activities is a great way to encourage kids of all ages to become involved in their community and get in the habit of doing good work in service to others. There are a number of kid-friendly service project ideas that are simple to implement, yet can have big impact.
Donation drives are a great option for young kids. Encourage students to bring in donations of items to be distributed to charitable organizations. Have the class vote on a charitable organization to receive the total donations each semester or academic year.
- Book drive: Collect books to donate to those who need them.
- Coat drive: Organize a collection drive for coats, jackets, and other winter gear to be donated to needy individuals.
- Critter supplies: Collect supplies to donate to animal rescue groups.
- Food drive: Encouraging kids to bring in canned goods or other non-perishables to give to local families in need.
- Holiday donations: Host a holiday donation drive to help needy families.
- Penny donations: Place a collection jar in the classroom for donations of pennies.
- Printer ink: Have kids raise money by collecting items for an ink cartridge recycle program.
- School supplies: Collect extra school supplies to share with kids who can't afford them.
- Shoe drive: Host a used shoe drive fundraiser through an organization like Angel Bins.
- Sock drive: Collect unopened packages of socks to donate to homeless shelters.
- Toy drive: Collect toys to share through Toys for Tots or a similar program.
Handmade Item Donations
Help young kids learn how their handiwork can help others in need by encouraging them to make items to share with others.
- Art for seniors: Draw pictures or special occasion cards for nursing home residents.
- Craft donations: Young children can create craft projects to donate to nursing home or senior housing residents.
- First responder outreach: Create thank you cards for first responders in gratitude for their life-saving work.
- Holiday crafts: Make holiday ornaments and decorations to share with senior citizens or families in need.
- Gifts for sick kids: Assemble goodie bags for distribution to kids who are in the hospital.
- Military cards: Make handmade cards to send to deployed military personnel or patients at veterans hospitals.
- Patriotic crafts: Create American flag crafts for residents of veterans homes or patients at veterans hospitals.
- Parental appreciation: Create drawings, crafts, and/or write thank-you notes for parent volunteers.
Service Project Ideas for Middle School Students
Some of the projects listed for elementary students are still appropriate for middle schoolers, but tweens can also start to take on projects with greater individual responsibility.
- Angel tree: Choose an Angel Tree ornament and raise money to purchase the requested items.
- Big kid buddy: Pair middle schoolers with younger children to serve as peer mentors.
- Butterfly garden: Plant and maintain a butterfly garden at school or other appropriate locations.
- Charity yard sale: Collect donated items to host a yard sale to raise money for a good cause.
- Compost on campus: Set up a compost bin at school to encourage waste reduction.
- Crafting lessons: Teach younger kids how to complete age-appropriate craft projects.
- Eyeglasses: Collect old eyeglasses to donate to organizations like the Lions Club or VSP Global.
- Fundraising car wash: Under adult supervision, middle schoolers can raise money for a worthy cause via a car wash.
- Games with seniors: Organize game night at an assisted living facility, with middle schoolers joining residents to play board games.
- Gardening donations: Grow veggies at school or home to donate to the local food bank.
- Mayoral proclamation: Raise awareness for a community issue by petitioning the mayor to issue a proclamation.
- Park funding: Raise money to upgrade or repair playground equipment for local parks.
- Community recycling: Petition your town to increase public access to recycling bins.
- Seed saving: Save seeds from fresh veggies used at home to donate to a local seed bank (typically housed at a public library).
- Senior outreach: Spend time with senior citizens, either helping with household or yard tasks, or just keeping them company.
- Walk-a-thon: Participate in a charity walk, or work with adults to host a walk-a-thon.
- Vegetable seedlings: Start vegetable plants to donate to low-income families or transplant to community gardens.
Community Service Ideas for High School Students
Community service shouldn't stop when kids enter high school. Teens can contribute to their communities in many ways. There are even some college scholarships for community service.
- Adopt-a-school: Select an under-served elementary or middle school and gather donations to provide to the students.
- Alumni outreach: Launch a project focused on encouraging alumni to engage with current students.
- Bake sale: Host a bake sale at school to raise money for a worthy cause.
- Bird houses: Help wildlife and improve your woodworking skills by building bird houses or bird feeders for community placement.
- Botanical garden: Volunteer to help with planting and maintenance at a community-based botanical garden.
- Computer assistance: Use your computer skills to donate information technology support to a local charity.
- Community garden: Plant and maintain a community garden on school grounds.
- Freshman buddy program: Serve as a buddy to help incoming freshmen learn how to navigate high school.
- Hospital volunteers: Volunteer in a hospital candy striper program.
- Native plant distribution: Raise native plants and donate seedlings to community residents.
- Nursing home performances: Teen performing arts groups, such as choirs, musicians, and dancers, are often welcome at nursing homes.
- Political action: Join a political campaign or lobby politicians for a cause that's important to you.
- Prom dress donation drive: Collect prom dresses donations for those who can't afford to purchase.
- Race support: Volunteer to help with a charitable race or similar athletic event.
- Service club: Join the service club at your high school and actively engage with the group.
- Social media volunteer: Mange social media for a local nonprofit organization or event.
- Story time volunteer: Read to young children at the public library's after-school program.
- Tutoring younger kids: Assist younger students who need help with schoolwork.
- Soup kitchens: Prepare or serve meals at a local soup kitchen.
- Summer camp service: Volunteer at a summer camp for children who have special needs.
Community Service Ideas for College Students
College students can do good work while also networking and gaining experience to help boost their future careers. These are great service ideas for college clubs and service organizations, as well as individuals or groups of friends.
- Campus involvement: Get involved with existing college community service projects and recruit others.
- College application help: Volunteer to help high schoolers with college applications.
- College prep assistance: Host an ACT or SAT study groups for high schoolers.
- Donor appreciation: Write and send thank-you notes to those who donate to a cause you believe in.
- Dorm fundraiser: Have residents of your doom choose a charity to support.
- Computer training for seniors: Teach basic computer skills to senior citizens.
- Errand assistance: Tun errands for seniors or disabled individuals.
- ESL instruction: Donating your time to teach English as a Second Language (ESL).
- First aid kits: Assemble first aid kits to donate to homeless shelters.
- Flu shot clinic: Coordinate with the health department to host an on-campus flu shot clinic.
- Food drive: Host a campus-wide food drive to collect nonperishables for local families.
- Foster child outreach: Gather backpacks and school supplies for children in foster care.
- Homeless care packages: Assemble care packets for homeless shelters to distribute.
- Book swap: Start a book swap where people can pick up and drop off books for free.
- Literacy programs: Volunteer with literacy programs that help adults learn to read.
- Online safety training: Teach kids, teens, or older adults how to stay safe online.
- Puzzles with seniors: Join assisted living residents to put together puzzles.
- Roadway clean-up: Adopt a mile (or more) of roadway and make sure that it stays free of litter.
- Scrapbooking with seniors: Host scrapbooking sessions with senior living or assisted living residents.
- Soup kitchen garden: Help a soup kitchen by planting and maintaining an on-site raised bed salad ingredient garden.
- Voting drive: Host or participate in a voter registration drive.
- Waterway clean-up: Devote a day (or more) to removing trash from in and around local waterways.
- Women's shelters: Make welcome kits for newcomers to women's shelters.
Community Service Project Ideas for Adults
Of course, community involvement shouldn't end with graduation. Adults should continue to participate in community service efforts, either on their own or as part of employer-sponsored projects.
- Animal adoption: Coordinate with local animal shelter and rescue groups to host pet adoption events.
- Big sibling program: Volunteer with Big Brother Big Sisters (BBBS) to mentor to a young person.
- Blessing bags: Assemble blessing bags to give out to people in need as you cross their path.
- Clothing swap: Organize a clothing swap to allow people to trade items with each other.
- Community beautification: Volunteer to clean up neglected public spaces.
- Community theater: Start or get involved with an existing community theater group.
- Disaster volunteer: Become a disaster volunteer with the Red Cross or other disaster assistance/recovery group.
- Ham radio: Get involved with a ham radio network to help facilitate communication during disasters.
- Hiking group: Start a hiking group and coordinate outings to explore local trails.
- Home construction: Help build affordable housing for underprivileged families through Habitat for Humanity.
- Career building: Help high school seniors and college students set up LinkedIn profiles that will help boost their chances of career success.
- Crafting with seniors: Teach crafting classes at a local senior center or assisted living facility.
- Crisis line: Volunteer with a crisis text line or call service to help people in distress.
- Feed sick children's families: Spend an evening preparing a meal for families staying at a Ronald McDonald House.
- Food bank labor: Volunteer a few hours each week or month to help pack distribution boxes at a food bank.
- Foster shelter animals: Serve as a foster home for shelter animals awaiting rescue or a forever home.
- Grant writing: Use your writing skills to secure grant funding for community projects or organizations.
- Knitted accessories: Knit or crochet scarves, hats, or mittens to donate to homeless shelters or disadvantaged individuals.
- Meal delivery: Prepare and deliver hot meals to the elderly, disabled, and others who are home-bound.
- Measure precipitation: Get involved with the volunteer Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network to measure and map precipitation.
- Military family outreach: Crochet flag pillows or other patriotic gifts to give to families of deployed service members.
- Neighborhood recycling: Established centralized recycling drop-off or pick-up for your neighborhood.
- Nonprofit committees: Serve on committees or special projects with nonprofit organizations that interest you.
- Plant/seed exchange: Start a local group through which members can swap plants and seeds with each other.
- Poll drivers: Help senior citizens and others by driving registered voters in need of transportation to the polls on election day.
- Quilting: Start a group for charity quilting or to create memory quilts for families impacted by tragic losses.
- Scouting volunteer: Seek volunteer opportunities with scouting groups in your community.
- Surplus produce: Coordinate surplus produce donations from farms, grocery stores, etc. for a soup kitchen or food bank.
- Sunshine committee: Organize a committee to take food and other supplies to families experiencing difficult times.
- Teacher appreciation: Organize a teacher appreciation day or event at your child's school.
- Tree planting campaign: Start a tree planting campaign to fund and encourage adding beneficial trees to the community.
- Walk shelter dogs: Help the animal shelter by taking a few shelter dogs for a walk.
- Walking tours: Help people get to know your community by hosting free walking tours.
Community Service Project Ideas for Companies
Company-sponsored community service projects can be a great team building activity for employees, and can also help to position businesses as socially responsible corporate citizens. Companies can encourage employees to give back to the community, as well as sponsor their own initiatives.
Examples for Service Businesses
Service-oriented businesses can give back to the community in the form of pro-bono work. Example of community service projects for service providers include:
- Digital support: Website design firms can offer a no-cost website to a charitable community organization.
- Job seeker assistance: Staffing agencies can offer pro-bono resume services to unemployed job seekers.
- Nonprofit PR: Public relations firms can provide no-cost public relations services to charitable causes.
- Money management skills: Financial services companies can offer free money management classes.
Product-Related Community Service
Companies that produce tangible goods are well-suited for community initiatives that include product donations.
- Feed the animals: Bakeries could donate slightly out-of-date baked goods to local farms or petting zoos to feed to animals.
- Feed the hungry: Restaurants could partner with homeless shelters or food banks to coordinate meal or food item donations.
- Clothe the needy: Companies that manufacture undergarments could donate discontinued styles to women's shelters or nursing homes.
- Beautify the community: Plant nurseries could donate seedlings to help start community gardens or to beautify public spaces.
Ideas for All Companies
Whether your company provides products or services, there are many great ways to get involved in community service.
- Blood drive: Host a blood drive at your company location.
- Capital campaign assistance: Reach out to business contacts requesting support for a nonprofit's capital campaign.
- Career apparel donations: Host a career clothing drive to gather work apparel to donate to job seekers.
- Chamber involvement: Encourage employees to participate in the local Chamber of Commerce's outreach programs.
- Equipment donations: When your company upgrades computer or other equipment, donate old items to a charitable organization.
- Establish a company foundation: Fund a company foundation that offers grants to fund community projects.
- Day of service: Set aside a few days for employees to engage in community service projects. Allow employees to suggest and vote on projects.
- Employee carpools: Seek to reduce emissions by organizing voluntary employee carpool groups.
- Job interview training: Encourage managers and HR team members to offer job interview training to local students or citizens.
- Paid volunteer hours: Establish a policy allowing employees to devote a certain number of paid work hours each week or month to volunteerism.
- Professional associations: Encourage company representatives to serve as board members of industry professional associations,
- Public-private partnership: Select a partner school or charitable organization and share resources, including money, items, volunteer hours.
- Service awards: Start a service awards program to recognize employees who go above and beyond with community involvement.
- Scholarship program: Start a company scholarship program for local students in need of financial assistance for college.
- Speakers bureau: Start a speakers bureau offering free presentations for community organizations and schools.
- Work release partnership: Help incarcerated individuals prepare for success by participating as a work-release program job site.
- Worksite tours: Host a worksite tour program for student groups interested in exploring career opportunities.
Community Service Projects for Retirees
The years after retirement are an ideal time to devote more energy to community service projects.
- Birdwatching group: Start and lead a birdwatching group that's open to members of the public.
- Career education: Help attract a new generation to your previous profession by speaking at career day events.
- Entrepreneurial assistance: Help those who wish to become entrepreneurs by volunteering through the Senior Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE).
- Foster grandparents: Make a difference in the lives of children who have special needs or may be at-risk through a foster grandparent program.
- Hospital auxiliary: Join the hospital auxiliary program at a local hospital to help those who are ill.
- Museum volunteer: Serve as a docent for a museum or other type of tourist attraction.
- Poll worker: Help maintain the integrity of the election process as a volunteer poll worker.
- Preserve local history: Launch a project to preserve local history via a website, publication, genealogy group, etc.
- RSVP program: Get involved with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
- Senior center programs: Volunteer to help with existing programs at the local senior center or develop new ones.
- Share traditions: Teach traditions from your childhood (such as quilting, food preservation, etc.) to the younger generations.
- Storm spotter: Volunteer with the National Weather Service (NWS) as a SKYWARN® storm spotter or daily weather observer.
- Storytelling: Start a storytelling network by offering to share tales of local lore and history to schools and community groups.
- Therapy pet: Get your dog trained as a therapy dog and start a community outreach with your pooch.
- Volunteer fair: Organize a community volunteer fair where nonprofits can set up booths and connect with interested individuals.
Serve Your Community
When you're ready to choose a project, start out by deciding what population that you would like to help. Then, contact nonprofit organizations that serve the group that you have chosen to assist and explain your interest in a community service project. Chances are you will be provided with many volunteer work ideas. Whether you are looking for a way that you or your family can make a difference or if you are looking for a project for a class, youth group, or other organization, there are plenty of ways that you can volunteer your time or talents in service of your community.