Use these pointers to keep your children's service projects
- Plan ahead. Even the best-intentioned service
projects can backfire if they're not properly planned. Take time to
map, coordinate, staff, and evaluate every service project you
sponsor. Your extra effort will pay off in the form of repeat
volunteers, happy staff, and fruitful projects.
- Prepare adults. When adults have realistic
expectations about children's service projects, working alongside
-- not over -- kids is more productive and meaningful for both
groups. Explain to adults that by serving with children, they're
helping children learn to serve. Encourage adults to focus on the
goal of mentoring kids for service -- not frustrations and
- Be specific. Go over what's expected of
children -- and what isn't. Everyone -- adults included -- needs to
know what each job involves. Be clear about behavioral expectations
for children and what jobs may be beyond children's abilities.
- Give everyone a task. Kids feel valued when
they're given responsibility, and they'll rise to the occasion.
Structure tasks so children can do as much as they're able.
- Provide for needs. Plan for transportation,
supplies, and snacks.
- Encourage kids. Help kids be excellent
representatives for Jesus by encouraging them and honoring their
- Structure projects so they're age-appropriate.
Younger children need more hands-on projects. Instead of a canned
food drive, have younger kids deliver the collected cans to the
food pantry and stack them on the empty shelves so they can
tangibly see the impact of their service.
SERVING MAKES KIDS DIFFERENT
Kids benefit from serving others. Children for Children
(www.children4children.org), a nonprofit organization promoting
hands-on volunteerism and giving for kids, identifies several
benefits children reap when they serve. They learn traits such as
responsibility, leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving,
self-respect, self-discipline, self-motivation, and tolerance.
When we teach a child to serve, we're also teaching that child
to become a servant for life because children who serve become
adults who serve. Consider these statistics from Engaging Youth in
Lifelong Service (Independent Sector).
- Adults who volunteered as children give more money and
volunteer more time than adults who began serving later in
- Two-thirds of adult volunteers began serving as children.
- Those who volunteer as children are twice as likely to
volunteer as those who don't.
- Across incomes and age groups, those who volunteered as
children give and volunteer more than those who didn't.
- Those who volunteered as youth and whose parents volunteered
became the most generous adults when it comes to giving their