3 Easy Service Projects for Families

Sure, “saving the world” may seem like a daunting task to the everyday family, but small gestures can lead to big things. The Jewish value of tikkun olam translates to “repairing the world.” Regardless of how packed your schedule is, there are many ways to repair the world: starting a weekly tzedakah practice, recycling, and donating your time or money, are all simple ways to make one’s community, neighborhood, and the world at large feel better.

This short list features three fantastic service projects that can be done with your family in a single day. And while you’re repairing the world, you’ll also be embracing a whole bunch of other Jewish values like tzedakah (justice), feeding the hungry (maakhal revi’im), not wasting (bal taschit), visiting the sick (bikur cholim), and being kind (gemilut chasidim).

Host a Service Party

If you love big social events like potluck dinners, community movie nights, and book club gatherings, a service party is probably right up your alley. For a service party, you’ll pick a project--like making blankets, assembling get-well bags or running a canned food drive--then you can order some pizza, invite some friends, and have at it. Everyone can work on making or assembling the project of choice. At the end of the day, you’ll donate the finished items.

  • If you and your friends are crafty, use these ideas for making toys and other necessities for animals in shelters. You’ll be practicing the mitzvah of kindness to animals (tz’ar balei chayim).
  • Gather basic supplies to make first aid kits or bags of non-perishable food to donate. Check in with your charity of choice or local shelter to see what their needs are.
  • Make care packages for local children’s hospitals or elder-care facilities. Get a list of approved items to include and decorate special canvas totes or gift bags to transport each bundle in.

Cook for Local Heroes and Friends

Image via Beki Cook’s Cake Blog

People love to feel appreciated. They also love to eat delicious foods.

You and your family can spend a day making these firefighter-themed cupcakes from Beki Cook’s Cake Blog for — you guessed it — your local firefighters, or these blue velvet cupcakes from One Particular Kitchen for your local police officers. Kids can easily help you mix batter or apply frosting.

You can also make recipes for friends in need or start a "meal train" for a family that’s welcomed a new addition. Just be sure to double check on allergies and sensitivities first.

Swap Instead of Shop

Host a clothing or toy swap with families in your community. This fun social event is easy to organize, helps families find new to them items, and the remainders from the day can be donated to a local charity. You can also have a closet cleanout day with your family instead. Clean out the toy bin, the playroom, your closets, and cupboard. You’ll likely find brand or like new items that can help out an organization in need.

Tell us about your family’s favorite service projects. Join the conversation on Facebook.