6 ways kids can give & serve {fall edition}

I love my kids, I really do. But I love September because it means preschool starts up again. Back to school! I’m a sucker for routine (and being able to grocery shop by myself).

But as I look at our (quickly filling) calendar, I want to be proactive and schedule in time to give and serve with the boys. Which led to brainstorming what I can do with them…

Apparently my boys enjoy picking weeds, so why not find an elderly neighbor or widow to offer our services? We can rake leaves and pull weeds. God-willing, there won’t be any snow to shovel for awhile. Can’t find anyone to help out? We can always pickup trash around the neighborhood. My friend Ellie had a great idea for encouraging her kids help out. They use their fishing nets to pick up trash on the beach as they walked back to the car. The same could be done for the trash on the side of the road. (And best of all, it’s sanitary!)

We may not be thinking about Thanksgiving yet, but it is never too early to help food pantries stock their shelves so there is plenty of holiday food for all. Kids can help with the shopping and can help deliver the goods to your local church or food bank. Or search for a local food bank via Feeding America.

I want to kick myself in the shins every time I complain about clutter. That we have too much. I’m complaining about abundance when some have nothing. Not only do I need to go through my clothes to donate, kids can help by going through their toys to pick out the ones they want to give to other kids. And they can help play dress-up and try on clothes to see what they’ve outgrown. We can make a game out of it: See who can come up with the craziest outfit!

What are kids great at? PLAYING! Any new kids at the school? Encourage your kids to introduce themselves and ask the new kids to play with them. Are they wearing the same color shirt? That is apparently all it takes to make them new bffs.

Thanks to my friend Cara’s experience volunteering with her son, I am definitely planning a Cradles to Crayons afternoon for myself and the boys. And now I know to bring new underwear and socks. Perhaps we can even bring our clothes and toys to donate. Win-win.

I’ve mentioned the wonderfulness of Sole Hope before. They are always in need of donated medical supplies for their Foot Washing and Jigger Removal. Imagine the selflessness of washing someone’s jigger infested feet. Reminds me of Jesus!

Kids can help pick out the first aid items (listed below), help package them and bring them to the post office (field trip!).

  • Bar Soap
  • Sharpies
  • Large Safety Pins
  • Surgical Gloves
  • Cotton Balls
  • Medical Razor Blades
  • Medical Tape
  • Antibiotic Cream
  • Gauze
  • Band Aids

Mail them to: Sole Hope, PO Box, 1492, Asheville, NC 28802

What else are you doing with your kids this fall? I’m always looking for more ideas!

Teaching kids to give by volunteering (Cradles to Crayons)

One of the best ways to learn something new is to just do it. You can read all you want about a new hobby, a new sport, whatever it is. But until you actually do it, it’s not real.

So, as parents, we want our kids to grow up with compassion. With love for their neighbor. With a heart that desires to help others. As much as it’s important to talk through these things with them, they won’t fully grasp it until they starting “doing”. I’ve been struggling with finding ways to serve others with three (very energetic) 5 year old boys.

But, thanks to my friend Cara, we found our first place to serve.

Check out her post on volunteering with her 6 year old, on her blog Cara Soulia Photography. It is a wonderful journey that starts with sorting clothes and ends with her son discovering an unspoken need. Read the full blog post here.

Cara Soulia Photography Cradles to Crayons
(Source Cara Soulia Photography)

Cradles to Crayons (located in Boston and Philadelphia)

Cradles to Crayons provides children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play. We supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities that have with communities that need.

GIVE TIME: If you live near Boston or Philadelphia, Cradles to Crayons’ Giving Factory is a great place to volunteer alongside your children.

GIVE MONEY: Live elsewhere? You can still donate money. Per their site,

$25 can give one child a personalized package of essential items.

$15 will give a child in-need a new backpack for the school year.

GIVE LOVE (AND CLOTHES): Need another way to give? Go through your children’s closets and donate their outgrown gently used clothing. This will give us something to sort through while we serve at the Giving Factory!

I look forward to taking the boys there to donate and sort through clothes and toys. But thanks to Cara’s experience, I now know to bring a few packages of new underwear for the children.