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Community service is broadly defined as: The act of doing a voluntary service for a designated person, animal, environment, or group in need of immediate or long term assistance without pay or other compensation.

You can prepare a young child for the experience by stating:

Today we are going to help someone (an animal or a group) who needs our assistance. We will not be receiving money for doing this. We are doing it because the situation needs our help and it’s the right thing to do.

From the Stations for Kids Stories

Early literacy, high academic standards, and achievement are necessary to ensure your child’s success in the workplace of the future. In addition, the importance of community service should be an essential component in teaching your child how he or she fits into the world community. For that reason, a viable application of community service projects should be part of the educational process. All children learn community service best when it is applied to real life situations. In short, community service components should be implemented by utilizing hands-on activities that enhance:

  • Empathy

  • Sympathy

  • Compassion for others including animals

  • Coping skills

  • Flexibility

  • Proactive decision making

  • Negotiation strategies

  • Knowledge of personal strengths and weaknesses

  • Confidence building

  • Applying prior knowledge to new challenges

  • Reduced impulsivity

  • Communication and Collaboration

  • Non-competitive teamwork

Maxine Hill’s Favorite Elementary Community Service Projects

Is there an elderly or chronically ill family member that would benefit from a  weekly chore such as washing dishes, vacuuming, walking the dog, raking leaves, or putting out the trash on pick-up day? By doing these activities, children learn there are routines in life that must be addressed and they are called daily living requirements.

Is there an empty lot or land space in your area that could be used to plant a community garden?

 

  • Organize the neighbor children.

  • Explain the importance of growing food for everyone in the immediate community.

  • Explain the meaning of food deserts in urban areas.

  • Purchase plant seeds and live plants from the local nursery.

  • Invite the elderly and retires neighbors to teach garden classes and tell their ‘garden stories’ to the children on Saturdays.

  • Ask children to do short oral reports of the importance of plants in human nutrition.

  • Design a celebration at the end of each garden season complete with invitations to the local TV stations and news media.

  • Display the plants, fruit and vegetable during the event.

Organize a Neighborhood Lawn Patrol

Is there a backyard or lawn that needs an emergency clean-up until the neighbor recovers from an illness or family emergency?

Identify persons in your faith-based organization or local social organizations who cannot read. Inquire if your supervised child can read for specific groups. Young children make excellent reading mentors for adults with reading challenges.

Volunteer Readers

Readers for Local Retirement Centers

Take your young child to a HFH worksite to witness the group cooperation involved in creating a home for a homeless family. Explain the cooperative group skills necessary to begin and complete the project. While your child is observing the work, explain that the home is done by volunteers who work as a team until the project is completed without pay.

Visit a Habitat for Humanity Worksite

Call a local retirement center or assisted living organization to see if your child can read stories to the retirees on some Saturday mornings. Everyone loves listening to another person read a story, especially if the reader is a child.

Community Food Banks * Food Pantries * City Shelters

Is there a local emergency food relief program or homeless shelter in your city? Contact the organization and see if your child can be of service in some capacity. Filling bags or boxes with food, sorting pet food, passing out blankets, bottled water, or placing canned food on cabinets are essential teaching tools while children learn that emergencies can happen to anyone or any family without warning.

After the community service project is completed, ask your child the following questions:

 

  • What happened today?

  • What did you see?

  • What problem or issue did you address?

  • Tell me what you liked or did not like about the situation.

  • Tell me what you learned from the project?

  • Do you have another idea or solution for the problem? If so, what?

Complete the project with one or more of the following:

  • Encourage your child to write a story about the project.

  • Create a video with your child as narrator of the experience.

  • Ask your child to draw a picture or create a computerized collage of the project.

  • Obtain permission from your child’s teacher to allow your child to do a class presentation about the project.

Community service learning is an experience that your child will cherish for a lifetime.The rewards are priceless!