Looking for a fun community service project for your children and their friends to do for Christmas?
Think outside the box (and beyond helping at the food bank) and create your own community service project. With children, sometimes simple acts of serving others have the most impact.
Knowing how to pull together a simple event helps our teens learn leadership, planning, and organizational skills. This sweet community service project is an easy way for your teens to start learning those skills. For more ways for your teens to gain leadership skills, check out these five less conventional leadership opportunities.
Guest post by Robyn Schelp, Missouri Disability Empowerment President
One of our favorite seasonal service projects is hosting Hot Chocolate at the Magic Tree. My boys and their friends have a great time serving hot chocolate and cookies to their community at a local park one evening every December. Putting together a community event isn’t as hard as you might think.
Find a few friends willing to work with you on the community service project.
It’s much more fun to serve with friends. It also helps lighten the workload which is especially important this time of the year.
Find a local seasonal gathering place in town for your community service project.
Maybe it is a sledding hill on a snow day for public schools. We chose the Magic Tree which is located in a neighborhood park decorated with lights. Every evening people gather for photos and memories under the tree. Check with those who manage the location to make sure it is okay if you set up a hot chocolate or cookie stand. (You might need to check with your city. We were able to serve hot chocolate and cookies as long as the cookies were prepared in a licensed bakery and we didn’t charge money.)
Determine a date for your community service project.
It might be an impromptu snow day or maybe you can do flyers for a specific evening. Hopefully your location already brings enough people that advertising won’t be important. We create a Facebook event every year and send out a few flyers to our targeted audience.
Determine what you will serve at your community service project.
We served hot chocolate and cookies. We worked with a local grocery store who gave us everything at cost. They even delivered the pre-made hot chocolate and cookies, along with the napkins and cups. We had candy canes and stickers for the younger children to pass out.
Covering the cost of your community service project.
Even at cost, 400 cookies and cups of hot chocolate aren’t cheap. (Our Magic Tree is a very busy place. We give away all of the hot chocolate and cookies within an hour or two.) Since I have Thrivent life insurance, I was able to apply for a Thrivent Action Grant, which gave us $250 to put towards the event. This covered the cost of everything. Another option is to have all the families participating split the cost. Have your children rake leaves or other chores to earn some money to fund it. Maybe ask a local business to work with you on the project.
Have a great time serving your community!
Hopefully by working with a few friends, the above details aren’t too overwhelming. All the hard work is worth it when you watch your children serve the community. The joy that cookies and hot chocolate brought to the Magic Tree guests was contagious. Those who served left feeling more blessed than those who received.
Grow Your Community Service Event Next Year
We have been doing this for a few years. It started MUCH simpler with my boys passing out three dozen candy canes at the Magic Tree. Even this small act was received with big smiles and appreciation.
After our first year of serving hot chocolate and cookies with friends, we partnered with a couple local businesses located next to the park. They open their stores and have crafts and face painting. We also invited a local disability organization to work with us. My friends and I all have children with disabilities. We wanted to make this was an inclusive community event. We send flyers to local disability organizations so they know that everyone is welcome.
Every year the event gets better and better. This is what happens when you let God work through you. He blesses it beyond your imagination. My boys and their friends look forward to this event every year. I hope you can start a similar memory with your children!
Robyn Schelp is the President of, and Lobbyist for Missouri Disability Empowerment (MoDE). She was instrumental in the passage of legislation in Missouri to provide insurance coverage of therapies to all children with disabilities. She is a homeschooling mom of three boys.