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Service With a Smile

6 service projects that'll capture kids' Attention and hearts!

Kids love to serve! And the more hands-on the service, the better! Yet sometimes it's easy for us to get in a rut of the same old service project year after year. That's why our staff searched for these six rut-busting ideas that perhaps you've never heard of before.

Share these ideas with the children in your ministry, and ignite the fire of world-changing service in their hearts. They'll once again serve with a smile!

Operation Toy Box donates Kid Kits to American Red Cross chapters. Each Kid Kit is a gallon-sized Ziploc bag filled with craft items and a toy or stuffed animal. Red Cross volunteers from each participating chapter distribute the kits to children who've experienced a disaster. Kid Kits provide comfort, diversion, and familiarity to a traumatized child.

The children in your ministry can get involved in this service project by donating individual items or supplies for a complete Craft Bag Project. Supplies include safety scissors, half-sheets of construction paper, 8-pack crayons, stickers, glue sticks, stamper markers, a fun pad or small coloring book, and small toys that'll fit in a one-gallon Ziploc bag. To make fabric Craft Bags, log on to the following site for project instructions:

Send Craft Bags and any financial contributions to Operation Toy Box, Inc., 114 White's Lane, Louisburg, North Carolina 27549. Include the names of children who donated so Operation Toy Box can send a thank you note directly to each child. If you have questions, call (919) 554-1410. 

Children to Children, founded by elementary student Mackenzie Snyder, has delivered more than 10,000 duffel bags, suitcases, and backpacks to foster kids. Each bag has a stuffed animal attached to it. Mackenzie got this service idea when she learned that many foster kids who move to new homes carry their belongings in plastic garbage bags.

The kids in your ministry can provide the same service to foster kids in your community. Contact your social services agency to coordinate the details. Have kids attach a note similar to Mackenzie's to each bag: "God told me you could use a duffel bag and a cuddly friend. So I send this with love to you."

From the Girl Scouts of the USA, here's a great project for a homeless shelter, a social services agency, or a school district.

Fill a gift bag with items to give a party. Include a cake mix, cake frosting, a baking pan, candles, decorations, balloons, paper goods, favors, a birthday card, and a small wrapped gift. Tag each bag with the appropriate age level and gender.

Taylor Crabtree, 11, founded TayBear Company when she was only 7. Taylor's goal was to buy 50 teddy bears to give to children with cancer and chronic blood diseases. With the help of hundreds of other kids, and a few grown-ups, Taylor has given away more than 16,832 TayBear teddy bears.

Taylor raises money to buy the bears by selling hairclips, handpainted by a growing corps of volunteers. She sells the clips outside local stores, at speaking engagements, and from her Web site,

To discover how to get involved, go to Taylor's Web site.

Children in your ministry have learned about leprosy in the Bible, but they need to know that, while curable, leprosy is still present today. The American Leprosy Missions organization reports that one million people are receiving or need medical care for leprosy. Another two to four million people suffer disabilities from leprosy and require ongoing care. More than half a million new cases are detected each year throughout the world.

The American Leprosy Missions organization provides a Sunday school lesson packet to raise kids' awareness. Children can also raise or donate money. For the average cost of an XBox system and a game, kids can provide money for a person with leprosy to be cured.

Check out this list of items kids can give toward.
• Canvas shoes for insensitive feet: $11/pair
• Sandals to protect insensitive feet: $7/pair
• Locally made crutches: $4 each
• Artificial leg (below knee) and foot: $90
• Locally constructed wheelchair: $200
• One-month hospital care for wounds, ulcers, and leprosy reaction: $150
• Farmer training, supplies, and equipment: $500
• Training for patient deformity prevention: $25
• Surgery to restore eyelid blinking: $55
• "Clawed" fingers/toes surgery: $40
• Below-the-knee amputation: $55
• "Foot drop" correction: $85
• Patient/ex-patient housing: $100
• Cure one person of leprosy: $240
For more information, go to or call 800-543-3135.

When children with cancer lose their hair due to chemotherapy, older girls usually wear wigs, and little boys wear baseball caps. When a little girl loses her hair, though, she has nothing attractive to wear on her head. So the Quilters Guild of Dallas created a simple pattern to make hats for these children.

The Bonnet is simple to make and requires very basic sewing skills. However, mixing adults with your children for this service project is a good idea. The American Cancer Society accepts Comfort Bonnet donations.

For bonnet-making instructions, go to

To make a reversible Comfort Bonnet, follow these directions.

Two coordinating fabrics at least 22 inches square, a 20-inch length of elastic, decorative trims, scissors, a sewing machine, thread, and an iron.

• Cut two circles that are 22 inches in diameter.
• Sew the two circles right sides together with a ¼- to ½-inch seam allowance, leaving a small opening to turn right-side out.  
• Turn and close the opening with a slip stitch or machine stitch.
• Press around the outside edge, and machine stitch ¼-inch around the edge of the brim.
• To make tubing for the elastic, measure 3½ inches in from the edge of the brim and sew one row of stitching around the crown of the hat and another row of stitching
¾ inches in from the previous row.
• Cut a small slit in one layer of fabric and insert a length of 20-inch elastic into the sewn tubing. Secure the ends by hand or machine.
• Gather up the brim in one area and decorate with ribbon, flowers, a decorative pin, or other decorations.

Printed by permission of Marcia Shurtleff and the Quilter's Guild of Dallas.

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