Parents and Teachers

Building Character

Community Service

50 Ways to Be a World Citizen

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Doing service together as a family is one of the best ways to strengthen bonds, build valuable skills, and make a positive difference in the world. When children develop a habit of service from a young age, it becomes a natural part of life. And all family members can benefit from dedicating time and energy to  building a better world.

Finding service projects the whole family can do together can be a bit of a challenge. But service doesn’t have to be grand or official to have an impact. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of family-friendly ideas for being helpful world citizens. Some are specific projects you could take on together, and others are habits you can adopt to make service a part of your everyday life.

Take a look at the list as a family and consult with your kids about ways they’d like to help out. And share your ideas and experiences with Brilliant Star—we love to hear about families making a difference in the world!

Help Those in Need

1. Collect food for a food bank.
2. Gather school supplies for a local school supply drive.
3. Donate toiletries to a women’s shelter.
4. Make greeting cards for the elderly.
5. Take homemade bread or muffins to the homeless.
6. Make first-aid kits for a shelter.
7. Make art supply kits for kids at a children’s hospital.
8. Carry some healthy, non-perishable snack packs (such as bags of nuts) to share with others.
9. Volunteer to serve food at a soup kitchen.
10. Collect gently used clothing from your neighborhood to donate to a charity thrift store.

Protect Animals & the Environment

11. Offer to pet-sit for neighbors.
12. Collect food, towels, and toys for an animal shelter.
13. Volunteer to play with the animals or clean cages at an animal shelter or rescue center.
14. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count.  
15. Organize a clean-up in your town to protect rivers or other waterways.
16. Become a foster family for an animal rescue organization.
17. “Adopt” a trail or public space to clean up and maintain.
18. Plant a tree or native wildflowers.
19. Make birdfeeders and keep them stocked with birdseed.
20. Make it a habit to carry a plastic bag and glove to pick up trash on family walks.

Spread Joy and Show Appreciation

21. Make cookies and deliver them to the police or fire station.
22. Make a gift basket for a neighbor.
23. Write a happy, inspiring note on a sidewalk in chalk to make people smile.
24. Make cards for those in military service overseas.
25. Give someone flowers.
26. Make “thank you” cards for the teachers in your life.
27. Do a family member’s chores for him or her.
28. Send handwritten letters to friends or relatives who live far away.
29. Drop a note of encouragement into someone’s bag, notebook, or pocket.
30. Make it a point to smile at every person you see.

Serve Seniors

31. Rake leaves, mow the lawn, or shovel snow for an elderly neighbor.
32. Visit a nursing home and make friends with a resident.
33. Draw pictures and send them to senior citizens.
34. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly community member.
35. Offer to read to an older person.
36. See if you can take a pet to a nursing home to visit residents.
37. Volunteer for a meal delivery service in your area.
38. Make placemats for a meal delivery service.
39. Make a meal and deliver it yourself to an elderly neighbor.
40. Practice your instrument and play a concert for seniors.

Promote Peace and Unity

41. Hang out with someone who’s feeling lonely or left out.
42. Organize a block party to bring your neighborhood together.
43. Speak out against bullying and intolerance.
44. Study peaceful ways to consult and communicate.
45. Visit a house of worship from another faith.
46. Host or make friends with an international exchange student.
47. Host an international potluck and ask people to bring food from another culture.
48. Invite a family from another country over for dinner.
49. Write an article, story, or poem about unity in diversity.
50. Hold a prayer gathering for peace.

Annie Reneau is a homeschooling mom of three, a lover of chocolate and travel, and a former Assistant Editor with Brilliant Star. She shares her thoughts on parenting at Motherhood and More and works as a staff writer for Upworthy.

Updated on 12.17.13