When my kids were in high school, they were required to work a set amount of hours doing community service. Although we had volunteered in many ways through church and school, this community service for students requirement opened up new ways to serve our community!
What is community service?
Community service is work done by a person or group of people in order to benefit their community, without any form of payment.
What is the difference between community service and volunteering?
Community service is unpaid work that’s done for the benefit of your community but not always on a voluntary basis. Volunteering is done freely, of a person’s own will, and can be done in and outside of your community.
The lines can be easily blurred between the two but community service will often require a person to log their time where, with volunteer work, that isn’t necessary.
The same task could be done by two different people and be considered community service for one and volunteer work for the other.
An example of this is when my kids were required to log a certain number of community service hours. One thing they did was make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless. We would join a group, at a local church, to make sandwiches. Then, the lady who started the group would deliver the sandwiches, to the homeless, the following day. There was a good mix of volunteers and community service workers in this group. Many were high schoolers completing their requirements of community service, in order to graduate. Just as many were community members, volunteering their time.
Could volunteers also be considered community service workers? Absolutely! They just aren’t required to log their service time.
Community Service Ideas
Community service ideas are abundant and only limited by your own creativity. The absolute best community service ideas for you are the ones where your passions meet your talents.
- Helping elderly neighbors with a chore
- Stocking shelves at a food bank
- Tutoring students in an after school program
- Performing tasks at school games and social events
- Cleaning a church
- Gathering and donating items that are of a particular need – When my husband was a track coach, he noticed a lot of kids didn’t have proper running shoes. He began to ask teachers and friends to donate running shoes that still had life left in them and started a shoe closet for kids who needed it.
- Pick up litter
- Organize a community blood drive
- Start a community garden
- Moderate a helpful Facebook Group – In my local community, there is a group for local women seeking friendships. You may also want to start a neighborhood group where neighbors can set up a bit of a crime watch. Or start a Buy Nothing Group if your community doesn’t already have one.
- Find more ideas here!
What are the benefits of community service?
Although community service is not done with selfish intentions, it’s amazing how helping others also has the bonus of helping yourself, in many ways!
Make a difference in your community.
Donating your time and talents can make a difference in your community and the lives of people who live there. It’s quite rewarding to know you’re making a difference!
Meet new people.
Working in community service will give you the opportunity to meet new people, with common interests, who may possibly become friends.
Learn something new.
If you’re interested in learning a new skill, there is likely a way to learn that skill through community service and build your resume at the same time.
My son has been taking guitar lessons since he was eight (he’s 20 now) and started playing with his church’s worship team. Eventually, he was asked to lead worship and discovered he had vocal talent!
Community service gives you a way to get out, socialize, and do meaningful work that takes you away from the normal day to day routine.
When you do good for others, it gives you a sense of accomplishment which boosts your feelings of self worth and identity. These feelings give you the confidence you need to be self assured in your role as a community member and helps you feel more fulfilled as a person.
Gives you a sense of purpose.
Working toward a goal, with like minded people, can give you new meaning beyond your own four walls.
As a mom of young kids, I so enjoyed being a stay-at-home-mom but I needed to do something outside of my role as a mom and housewife. Community service gave me a sense of purpose beyond my normal routine and I was so grateful for that!
Where to find community service opportunities.
The best community service project is the one where your passion and skills can be used in an efficient way!
Schools will often provide community service opportunities within the school and in the community.
When my son was in high school, a local elementary school needed help with a math game night. Jack was stationed at the giant block section and helped kids build, with the blocks, and cleaned up afterwards.
Your local church is another great place to start, when you are looking for community service possibilities. Churches usually know where needs are and can pair those who’d like to help with needs in the church or church area.
Check out animal shelters near you and ask what kind of community service they could use to help them in their mission.
Food banks provide excellent ways to get involved in your community and really make a difference!
The seniors in your own hometown likely could use some help and a senior center could assist you in discovering the needs near your home!
Love working with youth? A youth center nearby is a great place to ask how you can help!
A quick search online at Volunteer Match is an easy way to find community service opportunities that match your abilities.
How do you keep track of community service?
When my kids were in high school, they were required to keep a record of the community service they performed, along with signatures from the the people they did the community service for.
To make this process easier, I created a Community Service Record Sheet so they could have all of their community service recorded in one simple to use place.