God calls us all to be the hands and feet of Christ, and one of the greatest opportunities a youth ministry can provide is “serving practice” for kids. If you’re looking for loads of service project ideas to transform pre-teens and teenagers into volunteers, you’re in the right spot.
Here’s a list of some favorite service project ideas for youth:
1. Pick up litter.
Trash is everywhere, so litter pickup is always an option. But you don’t need to do anything official like adopting a highway. Simply find a stretch of road, a local playground or park, a natural area, and so on. For most settings, all you need are garbage bags and latex gloves. If you’ll be near a road, though, wear orange vests for safety. Maybe even spring for some trash-picker tongs for adult chaperones.
2. Volunteer at a local school.
Most principals will jump at the chance to put young volunteers to work. Call a local elementary school and ask how your group members can help. Ideas include after-school tutoring, coaching a team and serving as recess buddies.
3. Collect change for a cause.
Choose a local ministry or social service, and ask students to round up change. Brainstorm a theme for the collection receptacles. Local crisis pregnancy centers are a popular option. Up the ante by getting students involved in the ministry as well. Shop with some kids when it’s time to turn the change into items to donate. Or bring a small group to serve at the center or shelter when you drop off donations.
4. Organize a free car wash.
Church and community members are used to seeing car-wash fundraisers, but why not just bless the people in your area with a free wash instead? If your church has ever done a car wash as a fundraiser, you already have the necessary supplies!
5. Organize a work day at someone’s home.
Service project ideas abound throughout every community. Gather teens to help out a widow, elderly couple or individual with special needs. Start by asking members of the congregation if they, their parents or their neighbors can use help.
If you know any contractors, ask if they’ll provide some mentorship and learning for students. A willing professional can teach interested teenagers projects such as replacing drywall and doing minor repairs. Otherwise, you don’t have to do anything complicated. Cleaning, painting and yard work are all a great blessing and don’t require special skills.
6. Wrap gifts.
You’ll have to wait until December, of course, for Christmas-themed service project ideas. But one option is to set up a table in the church lobby or a shopping center to help people through the holiday shuffle.
7. Pack meals.
A few organizations across the country, such as Feed My Starving Children and Meals of Hope, have very efficient systems for packing healthy meals. Some are then shipped all over the world! Your area may have a permanent facility, or you may be able to set up a mobile packing event at church.
8. Provide child care.
Plan an evening when students provide free child care at church so parents can have a date night. Teenagers can plan a themed pajama party, movie night or craft night for younger children.