Focus on Creating Joy by Helping Others During the Holiday Season

This month, focus on creating joy by helping others during the holiday season. Bring kindness to your group, school, or neighborhood with these ideas.

Preserve our National Parks

Take time this summer to hike, learn, share, and give back in the nation’s nearly 400 national parks. The National Park Service offers a variety of volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups as part of the Volunteers-In-Parks program.

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Summer Service Ideas

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Summer months bring long days, warm weather, school vacations – and great opportunities for kids to volunteer and families, camps, and youth groups to serve together. While service improves the community, kids also benefit:

  • It gives children and teens an identity and purpose.
  • They develop vital 21st Century skills like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication.
  • Families who help others together benefit from important quality time. Volunteering provides an opportunity to connect with your child and learn new things together.

Here are some suggestions for a successful service experience:

  1. Start with things your kids love to do.
  2. Consider issues your kids care about.
  3. Combine passions + issues for impact.
  4. Encourage, support and help your kids learn.

When you’re ready to plan your summer, you can find 20 summer service ideas below at

Alex’s Lemonade Days – June 3-11

Alex’s Lemonade Days is Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation’s (ALSF’s) annual fundraiser where supporters from coast to coast hold lemonade stands to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Lemonade Days is held each year when Alex always held her lemonade stand – to honor Alex and all of our childhood cancer heroes. Gather your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors, and join in the fight against childhood cancer.

World Oceans Day – June 8

World Oceans Day is a global day of ocean celebration and collaboration for a better future. This year, people all over our blue planet are celebrating with the theme “Our Oceans, Our Future.” Organizations and individuals around the world are encouraging solutions to plastic pollution and preventing marine litter for a healthier ocean and a better future with events in their communities.

United Way Day of Action – June 21

Each year on and around June 21, communities around the world come together to harness the volunteer spirit and improve the conditions in which they live. Day of Action is an opportunity for communities to come together and address the issues that matter most to them.

The Longest Day – June 21

The Longest Day is all about love. Love for all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. On the summer solstice, team up with the Alzheimer’s Association and select any activity you love – or an activity loved by those affected – to help end Alzheimer’s. Together, we will raise funds and awareness for care and support while advancing research toward the first survivor of Alzheimer’s.

End Summer Hunger

Hunger hits especially hard when kids are out of school for the summer. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Promoting summer feeding sites in your community is one of the most important things you can do to ensure no child goes hungry this summer. You can find summer feeding sites and tools to help raise awareness as well as information about how to become a summer feeding site at the USDA’s website.

Habitat for Humanity Collegiate Challenge

Do something different this summer. Habitat for Humanity’s weeklong break trip program, Collegiate Challenge, isn’t just for spring break. This summer, bond with your new campus chapter leadership, take a church on a mission trip, or grab four friends to go serve and discover a different part of the country.

Every Kid in a Park

Our country is full of dazzling landscapes where students can play and learn-and there’s an opportunity for us to make this experience a reality for more and more of our youth. Every Kid in a Park gives fourth graders and their families a free one-year pass to any of our nation’s public lands. As you plan your trip, find out how you can volunteer in a national park.

VA Summer of Service

This Summer, thank a Veteran and pledge the gift of time. The Department of Veterans Affairs is asking citizens across the country to join in serving our nation’s Veterans. Volunteers can find out the needs of your local VA facility.

The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson – June 22

Help build awareness about the importance of teaching children to swim to help prevent drowning.  On June 22, waterparks, pools and other aquatic facilities around the globe will host local WLSL lessons in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record. Swimming is a life-saving skill for children and a vital tool to prevent drowning.

Great American Campout – June 25

Help protect wildlife by pledging to camp this summer! National Wildlife Federation’s Great American Campout is a summer-long celebration of camping as a way to connect with nature and wildlife. Take the pledge to camp – in your backyard, your neighborhood, your local parks, state parks, and national parks, cabins, RVs, treehouses… you name it!

HOBY’s Advanced Leadership Academy – July 7-11

Application Deadline: June 15

Learn to become a force for good while earning college credit this summer. The Advanced Leadership Academy (ALA) is a college-prep program for high school juniors and seniors who are serious about spearheading positive social change. Participants (known as “Project Managers”) select the cause they want to impact, develop their project-management and leadership skills, and then create a plan for change to put into action when they return to their home communities. Join the ALA July 7-11 at Loyola University Chicago. Learn more, sign up for one of HOBY’s webinars in May, and register at

National Summer Learning Day – July 14

National Summer Learning Day is a national advocacy day aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year. Your participation sends a powerful message across the nation that summers matter and offers an opportunity to showcase how summers can make a life-changing difference in the lives of young people.

Read & Act

Use the Read & Act: Kids Making a Difference collection of inspiring children’s books from FirstBook paired with free downloadable discussion guides from YSA to help youth ages 6-12, understand how they can use their unique talents, interests and passions to spark action in their own communities.

Lead a Get Ready Get Safe Prep Rally

Make sure that your family and community are equipped to protect its littlest and most vulnerable citizens. Raise your voice, use your skills and together, we can help turn the tide and build a generation of prepared citizens. Lead Get Ready Get Safe Prep Rally activities and events to help build community awareness and educate children and families about simple things they can do to stay safe in emergencies.

Map & Improve Play Places

The Map of Play is a community generated guide to playspaces across the country. You can find playspaces near your location or add a new playspace and help other people find great places to play wherever they may be! Find or add a playspace today. Then, take action to make playspaces in your community even better by planning a play day, organizing a clean-up, or building side projects.

StoryCorps App

Record and share the stories that are all around you. With the StoryCorps app and you can browse and listen to recordings from other users, add to the online library by sharing your own story, and activate your group, organization, or community around the power of storytelling.

Mandela Day – July 18

Nelson Mandela International Day is in recognition of Nelson Mandela’s birthday on July 18 and inspired by a call Nelson Mandela made for the next generation to take on the burden of leadership in addressing the world’s social injustices when he said that “it is in your hands now”.  It is more than a celebration of Madiba’s life and legacy. It is a global movement to honor his life’s work and act to change the world for the better.

National Night Out – August 1

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.  Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities. Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.

International Youth Day – August 12

International Youth Day is celebrated every year on August 12. International Youth Day 2017 is dedicated to celebrating young people’s contributions to conflict prevention and transformation as well as inclusion, social justice, and sustainable peace. The current generation of youth are the largest in history and young people often comprise the majority in countries marked by armed conflict or unrest, therefore considering the needs and aspirations of youth in matters of peace and security is a demographic imperative.

Ways Kids Can Give Thanks

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Teaching kids to be thankful doesn’t involve guilt trips or lectures on the less fortunate, and the benefits will last longer than the turkey sandwiches. Grateful children may grow into happier adults, according to Christine Carter, Ph.D., author of Raising Happiness and director of the Greater Good Parents program at the University of California at Berkeley. “Pioneering social scientists think that 40 percent of our happiness comes from intentional, chosen activities throughout the day. Thankfulness is not a fixed trait. It’s a skill that can be cultivated, like kicking a soccer ball or speaking French,” Dr. Carter says. Because Thanksgiving is high season for gratitude, it’s an ideal time to talk to your children about remembering the blessings. Try these easy and interesting tips to teach your children to develop a habit of thankfulness.

  1. Shop, Buy, and Share – Trips to the grocery store, drugstore, or toy store can be opportunities to think of others. Next time you’re stocking up, encourage your children to pick one or two canned goods to donate to a Thanksgiving food drive or a food bank. Shelters also need donations of personal care items (soap, toothpaste, diapers) or new clothing (warm socks, jackets). Check with local shelters to see what they need, and have kids choose the supplies. They’ll learn to think of others and start to appreciate the necessities they ordinarily take for granted.
  2. De-clutter and Donate – Encourage your children to donate toys they no longer use or clothes they’ve outgrown. Let them know that some things they don’t need might be useful for another child. Suggest that they consider a short list of items to donate, and then bring them to a drop-off place such as the Salvation Army. Involve them in considering what they don’t want anymore so they will have new appreciation for their toys and clothes. Just remember not to force it: If they’re not ready to give something away, that’s okay.
  3. Volunteer your Time – Look for opportunities to volunteer as a family. Friends and neighbors may know of a group that can use the help. Serve food at nearby shelters or put together care packages for senior citizens or soldiers oversees. Show how giving time, not just money or objects, is another way of helping others and acknowledging gratitude for what you already have.
  4. Write Notes of Appreciation – Ask your kids to write a handwritten note to someone they’re thankful for; if kids are too young to write, have them a draw picture instead. Ask them to consider who makes their lives better or brighter. Is it the babysitter? A favorite aunt? A family friend who always remembers birthdays? When children reflect on who they want to write to, they learn to value people in their lives who have touched them.
  5. Appreciate Small Moments – Take time to appreciate the good things with your kids. Use travel time in the car as an opportunity to share something positive, perhaps by saying, “Look at the pretty leaves on that tree” or “Wasn’t it fun to make that drawing in class today?” These simple conversation starters encourage children to contemplate and appreciate the blessings around them.
  6. Keep Gratitude Going – Long after the turkey is eaten and football season ends, continue to practice thankfulness throughout the year. In the summer, donate your time when charities and food banks need extra help because regular volunteers are on vacation.

For additional tips on how kids can give thanks, visit

Have a tip not listed here?  Email us at

Family Volunteer Day – November 21, 2015

Family%20VolunteeringFamily Volunteer Day | November 21, 2015

Family Volunteer Day is a day of service that celebrates the power of families who work together to support their neighbors and neighborhoods. Each year, thousands of families use the day to teach children valuable real-life lessons about compassion and caring. Volunteering also can be a great way for kids and adults to develop skills, learn more about their community and make friends.

Family volunteering strengthens families and strengthens communities. Whether it is the whole family volunteering together, one parent with one child or teen, or with extended family such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, families engaging in service can help mobilize thousands of new volunteers and instill in the next generation a lifelong commitment to volunteering.

Kick off the holiday season with loved ones and an act of kindness or volunteer project on Saturday, November 21st (the weekend before Thanksgiving) to celebrate the 25th Annual Family Volunteer Day, brought to you by GenerationOn and Disney Friends for Change.

Can’t go out?  Do one of these projects at home:

Make Cheery Cards

Make cards for children who are hospitalized and are in need of some holiday cheer.

Doggie Bags

Make treats for animals in shelters so they can be thankful for the kindness of strangers.

Environmental Clean-Up

Clean up a park in your area to protect wildlife and bring your family together for outdoor fun.

Health and Happiness Kits

Make Health and Happiness Kits for people in shelters or those without homes to give them the basic necessities.