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:
- Offer to help an older neighbor with yard or housework
- 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.
- Make dinner together for a friend or neighbor
- 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.
- 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.
- Rake leaves or shovel snow for your neighbors
- Make cards or Valentine’s for a senior center or nursing home
- HillsDOer Day: Each October the city of Hillsboro organizes service projects all around, and many are great for families.
- 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.
- Clean up Trash: Go for a walk or head to a park and clean up trash. Wear gloves, supervise, and give some safety tips.
- 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.)
- Donate to a children’s hospital: Here are the sorts of things they need.
- Oregon Special Olympics: Take older kids to volunteer or young kids to cheer at their next event
- Write letters to members of the military through A Million Thanks
- Do a lemonade stand or bake sale and donate the profits
- 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.