Community Service Projects for Families


How do you raise compassionate, selfless little people? Good question! I’m only 6 years into this child-rearing thing so I’m still figuring it out.

But here’s something: teach them to care for other people and to try to understand their struggles. Last September my girls and I watched a documentary called “Living on One Dollar,” and it led to a discussion about poverty and the challenges some people face. We all decided we’re pretty dang spoiled.

We felt inspired to do something to give to others, so we organized a small coat drive. I searched and found the Hillsboro Family Resource Center, a group helping families in our town. The girls decorated a large box, we put it on our porch for a few weeks, and I advertised our coat drive to our friends and neighbors by email and social media. BOOM! I kept the donating circle small, but we ended up with several bags of donations. It was a great experience for our little family.

So what else can our families do? Check out this list of community service projects for families to do together in the Portland area:

  1. Offer to help an older neighbor with yard or housework
  2. Coat or Clothing Drive: Contact a group like the Foster Closet or Lutheran Community Services NW to find out what they need. Leave a large box on your porch and advertise to your neighbors and friends with fliers or by social media (never post your address online). Set a deadline and drop off the donations together.
  3. Make dinner together for a friend or neighbor
  4. Make “Bags of Sunshine” for Cancer Patients: We passed these out in the waiting room at my Dad’s cancer center. The girls helped fill small Ziplocs with chapstick, candy, lotion, and a cheerful note. It was meaningful for all of us.
  5. Northwest Children’s Outreach: This group provides clothes, toiletries, and more for foster children. Families of all ages can come organize and sort during set hours at their locations in Beaverton, Tualatin, and more.
  6. Rake leaves or shovel snow for your neighbors
  7. Make cards or Valentine’s for a senior center or nursing home
  8. HillsDOer Day: Each October the city of Hillsboro organizes service projects all around, and many are great for families.
  9. Oregon Food Bank: Organize a food drive or even take your children (as young as 5!) to pack food at their Beaverton or Portland locations. Learn more here.
  10. Clean up Trash: Go for a walk or head to a park and clean up trash. Wear gloves, supervise, and give some safety tips.
  11. Give to the homeless: Wrap burritos in foil or stuff a rolled pair of socks with chapstick and granola bars and hand them out to people you pass on the streets. (Use appropriate caution.)
  12. Donate to a children’s hospital: Here are the sorts of things they need.
  13. Oregon Special Olympics: Take older kids to volunteer or young kids to cheer at their next event
  14. Write letters to members of the military through A Million Thanks
  15. Do a lemonade stand or bake sale and donate the profits
  16. Make Blankets for Project Linus: Even young children can help make easy, no-sew fleece blankets to donate


I’d love to learn of more! Comment and share other service opportunities, pretty please.



  1. Wow loved your post! I live in Salem and went to Glencoe High School so I know all about the hillsboro area. I would look at advocating the importance of our community gardens, passing out your fliers at the hillsboro farmers markets, and joining the red cross volunteer program! When your girls get older they can join a variety of vollunteer programs such as 5k runs and blood drives! Hope this helps!

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