If community service and volunteerism is a big part of your life, that's something you want your children to value, as well. Volunteering together not only helps others, but also draws a family closer, according to the KidsHealth website. At the same time, kids who volunteer become acquainted with their community, gain an awareness of the larger world and take pride in what they're doing. The child who helps you serve a hot meal today could be a future Peace Corps or AmeriCorps volunteer.
A community clean-up can be a relatively easy way for children to improve their community. Your town may have an annual spring clean-up. If so, you and your children could just join in, picking up trash in parks and other public areas. If your town doesn't have a yearly clean-up day, go out with your children on a Saturday morning and as a family pick up trash in those public areas. Also consider getting your children's school or Boy Scout or Girl Scout groups involved. Schedule a weekend morning every month or every season to spruce up these areas.
In "The Teenagers Guide to the Real World," author Marshall Brain writes that most homeless shelters welcome volunteers and have a variety of programs through which you can get involved. Teenagers might "help prepare or distribute meals, work behind the scenes in the business office, help...stock the pantry, etc.," he writes. Younger children, with their parents' help, could organize a canned food or toy drive or host a fundraiser. Again, this kind of effort is ideal for school groups and organizations such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Plant a Garden
Many cities, strapped for money to provide even basic services, cannot afford to beautify public areas. At the same time, city neighborhoods often have vacant plots that could benefit from a vegetable patch or flowers. Planting a garden or landscaping a public area not only improves the appearance of the community, but also teaches children about plants and how they grow. Some university extension services have staff members or master gardeners who can provide expertise for a raised bed project. Harvested vegetables could be donated to a local hot meal program or neighborhood residents in need.