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October 16, 2017

4 min

Taylor Sanchez

7 of the Best Autumn Service Learning Projects

Autumn is one of the best times of the year to inspire a love for service learning and community volunteer work. Use the chilly harvest months to create fresh opportunities for your children to empathize with the needs of others. They'll quickly find that the best way to enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving is finding new ways to bring joy to those around them.

Senior Citizen Yard Work

Although Autumn is famous for the vivid, color-changing leaves of the bushes and trees, those in our senior communities are often quickly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of these leaves as they pile up in the yards and sidewalks. The elderly are not always able to maintain their seasonal yard work, particularly if they're in poor health. Take your children to a local senior community and search for houses that could use a little extra seasonal "TLC." Help them look for yards with piles of leaves or over-grown hedges and allow them to offer their services. Senior citizens will be pleasantly surprised and grateful for this sincere offer and show of goodwill.

Soup Kitchen/Food Pantry Volunteers

Chilly Autumn weather and the threat of on-coming winter often creates a sharp spike in the needs of local food pantries and soup kitchens. Many of these vital institutions find their stock quickly depleted as more and more of the less fortunate seek hot meals during the holiday months. Show your children the importance of donating to these helpful organizations. Take them on a special shopping trip for non-perishable goods or holiday treats and donate as a family. In addition to donations, look into volunteering. Serving meals, helping in the kitchen, and acting as door greeters at a local shelter are all perfect ways to encourage shelter visitors while also inspiring a fresh sense of thankfulness within your own children's hearts.

Trick-or-Treating Baggies

Not every child has the opportunity to enjoy yearly trick-or-treating. Children's hospitals and pediatric wards are always packed with children and teens that miss out on this exciting yearly tradition. Although they may not be able to leave, you and your children can very easily host a private trick-or-treating surprise for them this October. Ask for permission at a local hospital and double-check their rules and policies before planning. Dress up in fun costumes and bring plenty of candy and goodie bags. The children will be shocked and overjoyed to get a personal Halloween experience.

Cozy Clothing Donations

Although winter hasn't yet arrived, the Autumn months are still very chilly for those without homes. Before the first snow fall, work with your children to plan for warm clothing donations. Visit thrift stores and neighborhoods for donations and work with a shelter or church to provide clothing for those in need. With just a few lessons, older children and teens can master knitting and crocheting skills for scarves and hats. Young children can also create flannel scarves with no-sew kits and patterns. Working to keep someone else warm is a sure-fire way to inspire a warm, giving holiday spirit within your family.

Litter Patrol

The week following Halloween is often rough on local parks and neighborhoods. Many streets and playgrounds are flooded with trick-or-treating litter and party trash. Together with your children and their friends, form a "litter squad" to help restore your community and keep it orderly. Trash is devastating for local wildlife. Although this litter isn't your children's, learning to work together is vital for teaching responsibility and ownership. They'll be far less likely to ever litter themselves in the future. Help your children take pride in keeping their favorite parks clean.

Military Care Packages

Every year, thousands of men and woman are away from their families for the holidays as they serve over seas. Teach your children to honor and treasure the service of our country's soldiers with a special holiday care package. Request a list of names from organizations such as The Soldier's Family and begin planning an Autumn-themed list of goodies. Include plenty of seasonal treats such as Halloween candy or homemade baked goods. Tuck away some simple decorations in each package so each solider can brighten up their living quarters. Tucking in a few colorful Fall leaves is a simple but nostalgic way to help them remember the beauty of the season while they're far from home. Be sure to have your children include a thoughtful card or some personal drawings to brighten each soldiers' holiday.

Harvest Charity Bazaar

The Autumn months are the perfect time for throwing a craft fair in your community. Help your children pick a local charity in need and begin planning your event. Animal shelters, food pantries, and foster care services are just a few of the critical organizations in need. These institutions often require extra funds and supplies during the chilly Autumn and winter months. As you plan your craft fair, work with your charity and explain your desire to help. They'll be thrilled to see your children's interest and enthusiasm. Many are often willing to help arrange a location and advertising for your event. Have your children and their friends work together to create simple, but attractive holiday decorations and knick-knacks they can sell. Browse the internet and craft books for colorful, Autumn-themed decoration ideas. Home-baked treats and goodies are also top sellers. Your children can pass out fliers around their neighborhood and school to spread the word and increase interest. Be sure to explain that all proceeds are going to support your selected charity.

Although volunteer work and service learning are vital year-round activities for children of all ages, investing in the community is even more meaningful during the holiday months. There's no better way for your children to get into the holiday spirit then actively searching for ways to encourage and assist others.

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