Doing service as a family is wonderful for strengthening family bonds, for helping others and for teaching your children to have a healthy perspective on the world and how to work.

Here are some tips to help you plan a successful service project:

  • Start with a long list of ideas. Before you start planning your service, make sure you've considered lots of ideas. There are an infinite number of possibilities to volunteer with other organizations and an unlimited range of possibilities to help a neighbor or family member who could use a hand. Don't call your list of ideas finished until you have at least 10, but keep going as long as the ideas are flowing and the possibilities keep coming.

  • Use the Internet. A quick Google search for volunteer opportunities in your city will certainly yield a long list if you didn't come up with enough ideas on your own.

  • Consider the ages of your children. In order to involve everyone meaningfully and to include them in your plans, be sure to have all of your children in mind. Some organizations will limit participation of children under a certain age due to hazards in the operation (a food bank may not allow young children to help in the warehouse because of the risk the forklift presents, for instance).

  • Consider your budget. If your budget is unlimited, your project could be in Kenya and could take a month. If your budget is somewhat more limited, be sure to look for projects that fit. Keep in mind that there are countless ways to have an impact at no cost.

  • Consider your time. You should consider the amount of time you are willing and able to spend on the project. If you are thinking you only have an hour or two, think about whether you might be able to give an hour or two every week. If so, that would shape your planning for a project.

  • Consider the cause. In order to have an impact on your kids, you should choose a cause that fires their passion. It will be easier for them to get excited about the project if they are excited about the cause.

  • Involve your children. As you plan your project, get your kids involved. Let them help choose the project and plan for its execution. This will give you an opportunity to help them understand what this is about.

  • Combine service with fun. Be sure to put a little fun into the project. When the Smith family from Idaho did a world tour of service for four months, they finished the trip with a week at Disney World. While that sort of trip may be out of your budget, getting ice cream after your service project may not be.

By incorporating these concepts into your service project planning, you'll be able to plan a fun and successful project with real meaning for you kids. And you'll do some good in the world at the same time.

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