Service is often considered "selfless," but spending time helping others might benefit you - and your kids - more than you thought. Research shows that giving makes people happy, even the littlest people. According to the Public Library of Science, children (including toddlers) are happier giving than receiving. If you want to help your kids be happier and make others happier, give them the opportunity to serve.

Walk a dog

Human's best friend can lend a great opportunity for kids looking to give back. If your child is interested in animals, turn that interest into selfless action by volunteering with any number of animal-centric organizations in Utah. Nuzzles & Co rescues dogs and cats from shelters and adopts them into loving homes, while the Humane Society of Utah, the largest no-kill animal shelter in the state, is always in need of volunteers.

Can it

Don't have time for an organized volunteer assignment? You can give back to Mother Earth whenever your schedule allows. Spend an afternoon gathering cans or other recyclable garbage from parks or school yards and recycle. Don't think you can make a difference? Think about this: Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to listen to a full album on your iPod, according to

Make lemonade

... or cookies, or brownies. Really, the opportunities are endless. The goal is to raise some funds for a cause near and dear to your kids' hearts. Got an aspiring actor? Help raise money for Plan-B Theater Company, a socially conscious theater created by Utah playwrights. Have a blossoming dancer? Squeeze some lemons for the Ogden Symphony Ballet.

Help the hungry

It's hard for most kids to imagine being hungry. Give them a little perspective while supporting a local food bank by shopping for canned food or gathering donations from neighbors and friends. You'll be surprised at the haul an afternoon of hard work can produce.

Visit a sick friend

Friends are everything to kids; that's why lending a hand (or a smile) to their peers is a great way for kids to experience the joy of service. Help your kids create care packages for friends suffering from cancer and other health issues. Don't know any? Visit the Facebook page of Helping Kids with Cancer for opportunities to serve.

Clean out the closet

There's one thing that can be said for kids: they grow like weeds. Those outgrown clothes can benefit less fortunate children in the community. Help your kids sift through those overstuffed closets and dresser drawers and gather clothing suitable for donating to needy community members. Volunteers of America accepts donations of all kinds for homeless and at-risk youth and adults.

Plant a tree

It sounds like a simple afternoon project, but according to American Forests, one tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide and provide a supply of oxygen for two people. Whether you choose to beautify your backyard or give the gift of "green" to a (consenting) public property, planting that tree is doing the Earth - and its inhabitants - a favor.

Get artistic

Most kids love a good art project. Put those little Picassos to work for a good cause. Create greeting cards to send to local hospitals to cheer up sick kids and other patients. Those little Crayola masterpieces will provide some cheer where it's needed most.

Gift wisely

Got a birthday party on the calendar? Help kids select gifts that give back. Choose products or services that support a good cause, such as any item that carries a St. Jude logo. By choosing a special gift that also helps someone out, everyone wins.

Become philanthropists

Help your kids find a cause close to their hearts, During the month of March, The Community Foundation of Utah is sponsoring the Love Utah, Give Utah event. This Utah non-profit brings together donors, volunteers and local businesses together to raise millions of dollars to support our community. Every donation you make during Love UT Give UT will help qualify your favorite organization for challenge grants and prizes, and further the impact of your generous gift. Countless local nonprofit organizations need donations, so find something your family believes in - then give! To find a cause you believe in, visit the Love Utah, Give Utah website.

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