My missionary journey started with a clothing drive and a school poster. The way my parents supported my small efforts led to a dream I am still living today, serving orphaned and vulnerable children full-time.
Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.” When encouraging children to use their gifts for others, don’t measure the size of the project, or who it will help. Pastor Andy Stanley says, “Do for one what you wish you could do for them all.” Think about what interests your child and how you can turn that gift or skill or energy into something he or she can share with others.
Below is a list of 10 projects I’ve seen kids create as they have advocated for orphaned and vulnerable children. Maybe one of these will inspire an idea that energizes your summer season and turns your household into a place of blessing.
10 Service Project Ideas for Children and Families
1. Kids bought seeds and planted them, tending to them until they were small vegetable plants/flowers. They then sold them after church and sent us the “seed money” to invest in helping vulnerable children.
2. One girl hosted a book swap. For every two books you donated, you could take one home for free. The rest of the books she sold for $2 and sent the check in for a literacy project at an orphanage.
3. There was a boy who hosted an X-box tournament, with a $10 entry fee. He asked local businesses to donate prizes and donated the money he raised to a marginalized community.
4. Weighted blankets have a scientific effect on children with sensory deprivation. They are expensive to buy, but not complicated to make. Some students had an all-night marathon and made weighted blankets for all ages which was a huge benefit to the kids who received them.
5. Kids can work lemonade stands, bake sales and “dirty water” stands, (where they served drinks slightly colored with ice tea powder and educated people about clean water needs around the world.) These generate income to benefit whatever cause moves them.
6. I’ve seen kids host movie nights, with slight admission costs, and “concession stands” available. They paused the movie for an intermission where they took a moment to share why they are raising money.
7. Older teens can host a Parents Night Out event, where they watch kids at a church and the parents’ babysitting fees went towards a cause of their choice.
8. Several schools have done “Penny Wars” where two teams are pitted against each other (girls vs. boys, 3rd grade vs. 4th grade…) If you put a silver coin, it’s value counts in points, if you put in pennies, it subtracts points. Kids are putting silver coins in their buckets and pennies in their opposition’s account. The winner at the end gets a pizza party, or some prize.
9. We have had kids create a “Giving Tree” where they make an ornament with a specific dollar amount written on it. Those amounts correspond to the need of a child (school supplies, meals, new shoes, etc…) They then ask people to swap something they usually purchase (a coffee out, a new pair of shoes…) and instead sacrifice with the purpose of sharing their resources.
10. Two young sisters started a soap making business and donated their proceeds to orphans.
There is no end to the creativity of children, and as you teach them about sharing who they are and what they have with others, you’ll be investing in them and telling these stories the rest of their lives.