It is hard not to smile when you look at the children’s artwork on this page. In January, our Kids in Service NH group painted cheerful paintings for the patients at a hospice house. Volunteers visit the residents and ask if they would like to choose one of our paintings to cheer up their room. The painting of their choice gets hung on their bulletin board and it is our hope that everyone who visits their room is brought a little joy in a very difficult situation.
This spring, we partnered with the hospice house again and painted small terra cotta pots. I sealed each one with glaze and then we planted a flower in each pot. The 20 pots were delivered to the patients staying at the hospice house and other hospice patients around the community.
Creating artwork to cheer up hospice patients is a WONDERFUL service project for all ages. You could paint uplifting paintings, make blank greeting cards with the children’s drawings on the front or paint pots like we did. I recommend that you reach out to the volunteer coordinator at your local hospice house and see if they would like children’s art donations.
Hospice is a very difficult and sad concept for young children. I suggest that you tell your children that you are painting happy art for people who are sick in the hospital. That is all they need to know to be invested in this project. I am sure that their art donation will not only bring a little joy into the patient’s heart but the hearts of their family as well.
The books below are meant to inspire your children to make a difference in their community. These books are filled with characters (many of them real) who looked at problems in their own homes, communities and in the greater world and decided to take action and serve. We hope that you will enjoy these stories and that they will lead you to your own service projects this month (this post contains affiliate links, see info below).
CLICK HERE for our FREE Kids in Service Printable Booklist. Happy Reading!
Grandpa’s Corner Store by Dyanne DiSalvo-Ryan is a story about the struggle that small businesses have with larger box stores coming in to town. The box stores have cheaper prices and more variety and this makes it hard for the smaller stores to compete. In this story, Lucy is determined to help her grandpa’s store to survive once the big new grocery store comes to town. She rallies the neighborhood in this feel-good story. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt De La Pena is one of my favorite stories! The little boy is not happy about having to make the long weekly journey on the bus with his grandmother and spends his time looking out the window thinking about all of the things that he doesn’t have. Grandma helps him to see all that he does have during there ride. In the end he is grateful that they made the long journey to to the soup kitchen to help others! This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Can a Cookie Change the World? by Rhonda Boiling –This is a new book to me and I absolutely LOVED it. What a great message for children that they CAN make a big difference in their community (and the world). Tessa at age 7, wanted to help the local homeless population and decided to raise money at the local Christmas Bazaar by baking cookies. This small idea turned into a cause that the community has rallied behind and Kids Cookie’s for a Cause has raised thousands of dollars for many different charities and causes. Tessa is an INCREDIBLE kid! This book would be perfect or ages 5 and up and 70% of the proceeds of this book, go to charity!
Shaking Things Up by Susan Hood–This book of poems highlights 14 women of history who shook things up and helped to make a difference in this world. Each page has a beautiful illustration, a different type of poem about a little blurb of history about the woman’s contribution to our world. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
The reading of this book really begins at the 1 minute 51 second mark 🙂
Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner is the story of a real-life hero, Cornelius Washington. Cornelius was a street sweeper in New Orleans and was always spreading joy wherever he worked with his fun tricks and large smile. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Cornelius was determined to clean up his beautiful city. He quickly became overwhelmed by the amount of work that needed to be done. That is when the neighborhood rallies together and volunteers come from around the globe to help him clean up New Orleans. This book is a heartwarming story about a man who made the world a better place by not only keeping the streets clean but also with his loving heart and kind soul. I would recommend this book to ages 4 and up.
A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams is a great example that you can make a BIG difference right in your own home if you work hard and make sacrifices. The main character does come home with her mother to a house fire. This may be scary for some young children but is done in a gentle way and shows the love of the community and neighborhood and how they rallied around the family after they lost everything. This book is about family, love, kindness and hard work. I would recommend this book to ages 5 and up.
Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee–The world can be a scary place and the news is filled with sad and upsetting stories. This simple book is about how one family chooses to put aside their fears, live their life and spread kindness along the way. This book would be good for children ages 5 and up.
As I have said before, we are HUGE Brad Meltzer fans in our house. We love the Ordinary People series and we have read almost all of them. I am Jane Goodallis a kid friendly biography of scientist and environmental activist Jane Goodall. Jane did not follow a straight and narrow path to becoming a scientist. She followed her passion and love of animals and learned so much about the importance of patience and perseverance in her work with chimpanzees. Jane has made a big difference in this world and she continues to inspire generations to take care of our planet and the creatures that share the earth with us. I recommend this book to children ages 5+.
The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind picture book by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer is the true story of 14 year old William Kamkwamba and his effort to help his village during a terrible drought. William spent all of his free time trying to figure out how to bring electricity to his village and using junk scraps, built a windmill. This book would be great for ages 6 and up.
One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul is the true story of a woman named Isatou Ceesay who took on the growing problem of trash in her village in Gambia. The trash littering the streets was killing goats (who ate plastic bags), caused malaria outbreaks and created a terrible smell. Isatou decided she could no longer ignore this problem and gathered a group of women to recycle the trash and turn it into treasure. I love the beautiful illustrations in this book and the powerful message is one that all people over age 3 should hear. You can learn how to make your own plastic bag purse by clicking HERE.
Love by Matt De La Pena—This BEAUTIFUL book is on my list of FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF ALL TIME. This story illustrates the many versions of love found through out this world. Love knows no boundaries and can be found all around us. The beautiful text and illustrations in this book show just that. This would be a great book for ages 3 and up.
If You’re Going to a March by Martha Freeman is a sweet and simple book to introduce young children to the idea of being part of a march/protest. This book will not only explain what it means to protest peacefully but will answer any questions they may have about the process (where do we park? where do we go to the bathroom etc.). Best of all this book will put aside any worries or fears that they may have about being part of the event. I would recommend this book to budding activists age 5 and up 🙂
Check out the bottom of this post for tips on how to hold a safe fundraiser during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosting a fundraiser for charity is a WONDERFUL way to help your children make a difference in their community or in the greater world. Lemonade stands and bake sales (or a combination) are great ways for children to work and raise money for a charity they believe in.
The lemonade and cookie stand above was run by my children and their cousins on a hot spring day. We had permission to set up the stand and all of their ingredients were donated. They helped to bake the cookies, make the lemonade, create the signs and set up the stand. They had set prices but asked each customer if they would like their change (most said “NO”) and the kids raised over $60 for the NH Food Bank.
Tips to have a successful fundraiser:
Get the ingredients donated (have your parents, grandparents or neighbors donate your ingredients so that all money raised can be donated to charity)
Make sure to wash your hands when handling all food and drink!!
Post any allergens in your baked goods (nuts, wheat, dairy, eggs etc.)
Make sure your city or town does not require a permit for hosting a charitable lemonade stand or bake sale.
Set up in a high traffic area (but make sure you have permission to be there if it is not private property).
Make sure you have adult supervision!
Have a box with change.
Make signs with your prices and the charity you will be donating to.
Make sure you have plenty of cups, napkins and ice in a cooler to keep your lemonade cold.
Additional Tips to have a safe and successful fundraiser during COVID-19 Pandemic:
Wear a mask so that your customers feel safe.
Sell pre-packaged drinks and snacks instead of baked goods and homemade lemonade
Have hand sanitizer at your stand for you and your customers to use
Tessa Has Changed Her Community Through Baking Cookies
Can a Cookie Change the World? by Rhonda Boiling –This is a new book to me and I absolutely LOVED it. What a great message for children that they CAN make a big difference in their community (and the world). Tessa at age 7, wanted to help the local homeless population and decided to raise money at the local Christmas Bazaar by baking cookies. This small idea turned into an annual cause that the community has rallied behind. Kids Cookie’s for a Cause has raised thousands of dollars for many different charities and causes. Tessa is an INCREDIBLE kid! This book would be perfect or ages 5 and up and 70% of the proceeds of this book, go to charity!
Children Who Have Made a Difference with Lemonade Stands
There are countless stories on the internet of children organizing successful lemonade stands for charity. Here are four sweet stories of four INCREDIBLE kids.
Alex’s Lemonade is an organization that was started by Alex Scott while she was fighting childhood cancer. She hosted a lemonade stand at age 4 in her yard to raise money for childhood cancer research and raised over $2,000. Before her death in 2004, Alex had raised over $1,000,000 for charity. Alex’s parents set up a non-profit in her memory and children all over the world hold lemonade stands in the month of June to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. If you would like to sign up to participate in this fundraiser, please click HERE. Alex was an INCREDIBLE Kid!
Ella, who was born with a cleft lip, raised over $19,000 for the charity Smile Train with her first lemonade stand. Smile Train provides the funds for children with cleft lips, to have surgery to correct their lips. Ella had cleft lip surgery when she was a baby and wanted to organize the stand to help children just like her who couldn’t afford the surgery. She now holds a lemonade stand every year on her birthday and it is believed she has raised over $120,000.
This young boy heard that the family of one of his classmates was struggling to put food on the table and he knew he wanted to help. He set up a local lemonade stand and raised over $500 for his local food bank. This donation purchased over 2,000 pounds of food for the food bank shelves. Logan is an INCREDIBLE kid!
Meet Mikaila, she was 4 years old and when she was stung by 2 bees in one week. She decided to take that experience and learn something about the insects that scared her. After learning all about bees and the danger they face, she started a lemonade stand to raise money to help save the bees. Fast forward to today and she has turned that little stand into a profitable business with a non-profit organization to help educate and save the honeybees. She was even on Shark Tank and you can find her Me and the Bees Lemonade at Whole Foods and other small grocery stores! This little entrepreneur is an INCREDIBLE kid.
Birthday’s come but once a year and are a great reason to celebrate another trip around the sun. Unfortunately for some, birthdays are an added expense that can not be afforded. With a few simple items and a shoebox, you can create a birthday box to bless someone in need with a grand celebration.
What do you need for a birthday box?
1 box of cake mix
1 tub of frosting
birthday candles (no matches)
1-2 decorations (balloons, banner, streamers and/or party hat etc.)
small unisex toys or favors (stickers, crayons, markers, toy ball, small LEGO etc.)
a shoebox or small plastic rectangular box
We donated the birthday boxes we made to our local food bank and they distributed them out to families in need. This is an easy project for all ages and can make a big difference in the life of a child. You could even make this a tradition to put birthday boxes together on your children’s birthday. Everyone deserves the chance to celebrate their birthday.
Meet Bella, a third grader from Kentucky who builds birthday boxes to ensure that the children in her school are all able to celebrate their birthdays! What an INCREDIBLE kid!!
“The Birthday Box is a “party in a box” that is anonymously delivered to children who may not otherwise have a celebration on their special day.”
May Day, celebrated on May 1st, is an ancient holiday that welcomes the change of seasons. In the Northern Hemisphere it marks the return of spring (it takes awhile for spring to get to the Northern United States) and often involves dances around a maypole, the crowning of a May Queen and the creating of May Baskets. This holiday is still celebrated around the world but it is mostly forgotten in the US. It is my hope that this will change.
May Baskets are my favorite part of May Day. For the past few years, the children and I have left May Day Baskets anonymously on the doorsteps of friends and family. These simple baskets are made out of construction paper and contain spring treasures that we collect (flowers, rocks, pinecones, shells etc.), homemade cards that say, “Happy May Day” and treats that we bake. The kids love ringing the doorbell and running away before being seen.
March is one of my family’s favorite months of the year. This is because we LOVE to follow theIditarod. What is the Iditarod you ask? The Iditarod is a 938 mile, Alaskan sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers take teams of 16 dogs on an 8-15 day race through the Alaskan wilderness. This race commemorates Balto and the great Serum Race that happened in 1925. The Great Serum Race involved many mushers and dog teams in a relay to deliver medicine to Nome to battle a diphtheria outbreak.
The Iditarod started in 1973 to keep the sport of sled dog racing alive. Dogs and mushers all test their strength and ability during the race and try to be the first to cross through the arch in Nome. Animal safety is of the utmost importance during the Iditarod and all animals are checked carefully at each checkpoint by veterinarians. Mushers develop such tight bonds with their teams of dogs and most of them treat their dogs like family.
This year over 50 teams will leave on the first Saturday in March for the Ceremonial Start from Anchorage. This part of the race is broadcast for FREE on the Iditarod website. The official start happens the next day and my children and I will be glued to the GPS tracker on the Iditarod website, as we follow our favorite Mushers through the race.
In honor of the Iditarod, we wanted to share some of our favorite Animal Service Projects (click on the picture above) and our family’s favorite Iditarod books. Click on the book pictures below to learn more.
This is my FAVORITE Iditarod book of all time. I have read this book so many times and still cry at the end. This book is about a teamwork, determination and the love and trust between animals and humans. This story is sure to have you cheering on Akiak and would be perfect for children ages 3 and up.
This book was written by Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985. This book is the true, historic story of that race and includes photographs and beautiful illustrations. Storm Run is an inspirational story of a determined woman and her beloved dog team, who fought their way to victory. I would recommend this book for anyone ages 4 and up.
This is another great Iditarod story that puts you on the trail with the dogs and musher. This book was written by Shelly Gill, who was the fifth woman to ever complete the Iditarod. This book is based off of her experience and is filled with the action that these teams face on the trail. This book would be great for children ages 3 and up.
The Iditarod race commemorates the Great Serum Race from 1925 where mushers and dog teams set up a relay to get medicine to Nome for a diphtheria outbreak. The hero of the Great Race is Balto. You can learn more about his brave story and of the Great Serum Race is in this book. This book would be great for ages 5 and up.
Jack and Annie fans will love this tale of Balto, the famous sled dog. We are BIG Magic Treehouse fans in this house and this book was exciting from start to end. Magic Treehouse books are fun and engaging ways for children to learn about historic times. This book and the rest of the series would be great for children ages 5 and up.
This great book will bring you behind the scenes of the life of an Iditarod sled dog. You will learn about their training, their care, their determined spirits and the love and trust they share with their human mushers. These dogs are some of the most athletic animals in the world and this book is filled with dog facts and beautiful photographs. This book would be great for ages 3 and up. Younger listeners will enjoy the pictures and a brief summary of the text.
(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on the image of the books above you will be taken to Amazon. 20% of all profits made through this site will be donated to our charity of the season. You can see the current charity on our Book Corner page. Thank you for supporting our site and a very noble charity.)
All of us want to find time in our busy lives for service projects. We know how important it is to teach our children the valuable lessons that go along with serving others (empathy, kindness, gratitude, courage, selflessness etc.) but unfortunately those well meaning service projects are the first thing cut off the to-do list when life gets too hectic.
Here are 10 QUICK service projects that you can do with your kids TODAY, with items you have around the house. All of them can be completed in under an hour. I hope that this list inspires to you start a service project TODAY and learn as a family the valuable lesson of serving others.
Project Dollar Store--This is a family favorite and a project we do at least once a year. A dollar may not seem like much but this simple project can make a big difference in someone’s life. Click HERE to learn more about this SECRET MISSION OF LOVE!
2. Project Appreciation--For this SWEET project you need to gather everyone in the kitchen and think of a community group that you would like to thank. Click HERE for more details about this MISSION OF APPREICATION.
3. Make Placemats for Meals on Wheels–This is a project for all ages (well anyone who can hold a crayon or paint brush). First, click on the Meals on Wheels website and contact your local Meals on Wheels. Ask them if you and your family could make placemats for their clients. We have done this and it is an easy and fun service project. Gather some thicker paper (we used card stock) and some art supplies. My Kids Community Service club has done this a few times and all of the children (ages 2 and up) colored happy pictures to make the seniors smile while they ate their lunch. I mailed in our placemats but Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to help deliver the lunches (and kids are welcome to participate). If you homeschool, have younger kids or are looking for a summer project, contact your local Meals on Wheels about donating your time.
4. Make a Kindness Jar--This is the Kindness Jar that sits near our dining table. My children made it with our kids community service group last winter and it is always out as a constant reminder to think of others and BE KIND. Click HERE to learn how you and your family can make your own Kindness Jar. The post includes a FREE Printable of Kind Deeds to fill your jar with.
5. Collection for the Homeless–People who are homeless are always in need of gently used clothing (especially warm clothing in the cold winter months), new toiletries or toys that are in good shape. Give everyone in your family a bag or a box and challenge them to fill it with as many quality items as they can. Once you fill your bags or boxes drop them off at the local homeless shelter. This service project is not only helping people in need but it is also challenging the family to declutter. This is a win-win in my book!
6. Clean Up Your Neighborhood–Grab a few trash bags, some work gloves and head out in your neighborhood or to your local park. It always SHOCKS me how careless people are with their trash. My husband does a mini clean up of our street with the kids once a month because of all the trash that the passing cars leave behind. This is an easy and important service project for your community.
7. Make a Christmas Jar–This project can be done at ANY TIME of year. We started our third Christmas jar right after Christmas but our first jar was started only a month before the big day. Click HERE to learn about this WONDERFUL family project.
8. Write Letters to Soldiers-This project is so easy to do and younger kids can team up with older kids or parents to make this a family project. If you know someone in the military, consider making writing letters to them a regular activity. If you do not know someone in the military, consider writing letters and sending them through A Million Thanks. This site has drop off locations across the USA for letters and cards. Here is what one solider had to say about this wonderful organization:
“I want to say thank you for what you are doing for all of us, and especially for the men and women overseas that take comfort in knowing people like you are thinking about them.”
9. Project Sticky Note–This is such a fun and simple project. All you need are some sticky notes and writing tools. Write a lot of different uplifting messages on the sticky notes (“You are Special”, “You are Loved”, “You are Beautiful”, etc.). Now comes the fun part, put the sticky notes in places where you think people may need an uplifting message. We have hid them in library books, hung them on mirrors in public restrooms and put them on car windows on a dry day. You can have the kids hang them on school lockers or even hand them out to people who look like they may need a pick me up. My husband often leaves us sticky notes if he is going away on business. It always makes us smile to find the notes of love and encouragement. The key to this project is to make sure that you do not litter and that you are always respectful.
10. Write a Thank You Note--Have you thanked your parent or care giver lately? Have you thanked your teacher, your coach, bus driver or librarian for all they do for you? Did you recently receive a gift? EVERYONE loves mail! Bless one or more people in your life with a card or note thanking them for all they do to help and support you. This is a project for all ages, as the littles can draw and adults can scribe the note of thanks and gratitude. Make writing thank you notes a regular practice in your home. This simple activity will teach an important lesson in gratitude, respect and connection (not to mention it will help them practice their writing).