Family Volunteer Ideas

From : Family Cares
Project ideas are categorized by issues.

  • Organize a one-day adoption fair with your local shelter at a convenient in-town location.
  • Collect pet food, rags, newspapers, pet toys, washable plastic pet carriers, paper towels, old towels and blankets for your local shelter.
  • Collect money for the training of Seeing Eye dogs and shelter dogs. Make an educational flyer to give to donors about these special animals.
  • Make homemade dog biscuits (recipes on the web) and sell to earn money for an agency that rescues animals.
  • Build a dog park on a vacant piece of town land.

Arts and Music
  • Perform a puppet show at a local library or senior citizen home.
  • Organize a sing-along at the children’s hospital, hospice or nursing home.
  • Organize a musical instrument drive and donate the instruments to a local school or community center.
  • Organize a “Making Music” afternoon with homemade musical instruments from coffee cans, bottles, tubes, beads and buckets.
  • Collect art supplies for kids in shelters or hospitals. Or make coloring books from downloadable web pages and spend a morning coloring or making a mural with homeless kids.
  • Help newly arrived immigrant children and their families celebrate their “First Thanksgiving” by collecting food, kitchen supplies, toiletries, clothing, school supplies, and toys.
  • Make backpacks of school supplies or toiletries for children and teens in foster care.
    Start a holiday collection of NEW toys for organizations that distribute gifts to children of incarcerated parents.
  • Organize a collection of prom dresses and accessories for homecomings and proms.
  • Spiff up children’s rooms at a group home with new pillows and comforters and a coat of paint.
  • Clean up neighborhood streets, a playground, a beach, or a community garden.
  • Clean and paint a family housing shelter or community center
  • Build barbecue pits, picnic tables or trails at local parks.
  • Participate in a brush-clearing hiking trip to help keep park trails in good condition.
  • Recycle – organize a drop off for clothes and coats, cans and bottles, bicycles, cell phones or computers.
Healthy Lifestyles
  • Organize a field day/health fair with traditional games about the importance of exercising.
  • Create and distribute educational flyers.
  • Buy or collect donated sports equipment for low-income schools, shelters, after school programs, park and recreation programs.
  • Organize a walk-a-thon or any other “-a-thon” that promotes movement!
  • Coordinate a healthy snack food drive for children in shelters or low-income after-school programs.
  • Organize a dance or a sock hop. Make the admission a pair of new socks or a healthy snack to give to a shelter.
Homeless and Hungry
  • Host a child’s birthday party with a sheet cake and presents.
  • Organize a “beauty day” at a shelter with free haircuts and manicures.
  • Collect food for your local soup kitchen or food pantry.
  • Collect new sneakers, pajamas, underwear and socks, cleaning and paper items or whatever is needed most on your shelter’s wish list.
  • Decorate the dining hall or common area for the holidays; make centerpieces, bring fresh flowers and fresh fruit and vegetables.


  • Collect books for low-income schools or after-school tutoring programs.
  • Organize a used book, videos, DVD, cassette sale.
  • Donate funds or purchase new books to an underserved school or library.
  • Create a family story hour and read to children in your neighborhood or to residents of a senior home or group home. If possible, leave the books with the residents.
  • Volunteer with a local literacy council to help people learn to read.
  • Organize a read-a-thon for an afternoon; involve kids from a community center.
  • Donate funds to a library in need, an organization that promotes literacy, or Heifer International’s Read to Feed program.


  • Visit the homebound. Ask if you can garden, clean up the yard, make simple household repairs, or drive them to doctor appointments, to the grocery store or to visit friends.
  • Partner with another family to repair or paint the home of an elderly couple or a needy family.
  • Make cards or a simple crafts and bring to a local nursing home for them to put on their dinner trays.
  • Play bingo, sing songs or host a birthday party for nursing home residents.
  • Visit a veteran’s home or senior residence, offer to interview them about their lives, take pictures of them and post on a bulletin board in a common area.

Sick, Recuperating, or Chronically Ill

  • Make meals or buy groceries for a local Ronald McDonald House or Fisher House, homes that support families while their loved ones are being treated in hospitals.
  • Collect phone cards, new stuffed animals, dolls and toys for chronically ill children in hospitals.
  • Assemble activity kits for kids in hospitals.
  • Collect new video games, computer games, DVD’s for hospital playrooms.
  • Organize a “quilting bee” – make simple warm and cuddly quilts for sick babies or children.


  • Buy tickets for a local sporting event (minor leagues) for children in-group homes or families in shelters.
  • Organize a sports and sporting equipment tag sale. Use the funds to install basketball hoops or playground equipment for shelters or group homes or neighborhood parks.
  • Turn a vacant piece of land into a baseball or soccer field.
  • Volunteer with your local Special Olympics committee or at a Special Olympics event.
  • Organize a “celebrity game” in your town – i.e. a local radio station squares off with teachers to raise funds for a local need or to improve sporting facilities in your town.

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