Are you interested in performing community service? Do you want examples of service projects you can do? Community service is a great way to help others and improve your community, and it can also help you gain skills and experience to include on your resume and college applications.
Read on for dozens of community service ideas to help you get started volunteering.
What Is Community Service?
Community service is work done by a person or group of people that benefits others. It is often done near the area where you live, so your own community reaps the benefits of your work. You do not get paid to perform community service, but volunteer your time. Community service can help many different groups of people: children, senior citizens, people with disabilities, even animals and the environment. Community service is often organized through a local group, such as a place of worship, school, or non-profit organization, or you can start your own community service projects. Community service can even involve raising funds by donating used goods or selling used good like clothing.
Many people participate in community service because they enjoy helping others and improving their community. Some students are required to do community service in order to graduate high school or to receive certain honors. Some adults are also ordered by a judge to complete a certain number of community service hours.
Why Should You Participate in Community Service?
There are numerous benefits to participating in community service, both for yourself and others. Below are some of the most important benefits of volunteering:
- Gives you a way to help others
- Helps improve your community
- Can help strengthen your resume and college applications
- Can be a way to meet new friends
- Often results in personal growth
- Gives you a way to gain work experience and learn more about certain jobs
How Should You Use This List?
This list of over one hundred community service examples is organized by category, so if you're particularly interested in working with, say, children or animals, you can easily find community service activities more related to your interests.
In order to use this list most effectively, read through it and make note of any community service ideas that match your interests and that you may want to participate in. Some considerations to keep in mind are:
- Who would you like to help?
Is there a specific group of people or cause you are passionate about? Look for projects that relate to your passion and interests. You may also just want to perform particular community service activities that allow you to do hobbies you enjoy, like baking or acting, and that's fine too.
- Do you want a community service activity that is reoccurring or a one-time event?
Perhaps you don't have enough time to regularly devote to community service. In that case, it may be better to look for opportunities that only occur once or sporadically, such as planning special events or helping build a house.
- What kind of impact do you want to have?
Some people prefer to participate in community service activities that have a quantifiable impact, for example, activities where you know the specific number of kids you tutored, dollars you raised, or cans of food you collected. This is in contrast to activities that don't have such clear numbers, such as creating a garden or serving as a volunteer lifeguard. Some people prefer quantifiable activities because they feel they look stronger on college applications, or because they simply enjoy knowing their exact impact on the community.
- What skills would you like to gain?
Many community service activities can help you gain skills. These skills can range from teaching to medicine to construction and more. If there is a particular skill you'd like to learn for future classes, jobs, or just out of personal interest, you may want to see if there is a community service activity that helps you learn that skill.
List of Community Service Examples
Below I've listed over 100 community service ideas to get you started with brainstorming.
Donate or raise money for your local Red Cross
Organize a community blood drive
Send cards to soldiers serving overseas
For your next birthday, ask for charitable donations instead of gifts
Hold a bake sale for your favorite charity
Read books or letters to a person who is visually impaired
Organize a wheelchair basketball team
Participate in a charity race
Organize an event or parade for Memorial Day
Volunteer to help at a charity auction
Participate in National Youth Service Day in April
Contact a tree farm about donating Christmas trees to nursing homes, hospitals, or to families who can’t afford to buy their own
Collect unused makeup and perfume to donate to a center for abused women
Help register people to vote
Organize a car wash and donate the profits to charity
- Help deliver meals and gifts to patients at a local hospital
- Write articles / give speeches advocating financial literarcy. First you should learn about the topics themselves, like calculating housing costs, or understanding personal loans, and then give presentations on these topics.
Helping Children and Schools
Tutor children during or after school
Donate stuffed animals to children in hospitals
Organize games and activities for children in hospitals or who are visiting hospitalized relatives
Knit or crochet baby blankets to be donated to hospitals or homeless shelters
Collect baby clothes and supplies to donate to new parents
Organize a Special Olympics event for children and teenagers
Sponsor a bike-a-thon and give away bike safety gear, like helmets and knee pads, as prizes
Collect used sports equipment to donate to families and after-school programs
Volunteer at a summer camp for children who have lost a parent
Sponsor a child living in a foreign country, either on your own or as part of a group
Coach a youth sports team
Put on performances for children in hospitals
Give free music lessons to schoolchildren
Become a volunteer teen crisis counselor
Organize a summer reading program to encourage kids to read
Organize an Easter egg hunt for neighborhood children
Create a new game for children to play
Organize events to help new students make friends
Babysit children during a PTA meeting
Organize a reading hour for children at a local school or library
Donate used children’s books to a school library
Work with the local health department to set up an immunization day or clinic to immunize children against childhood diseases
- Volunteer to help with Vacation Bible School or other religious camps
Helping Senior Citizens
Read to residents at a nursing home
Deliver groceries and meals to elderly neighbors
Teach computer skills to the elderly
Drive seniors to doctor appointments
Mow an elderly neighbor’s lawn
Host a bingo night for nursing home residents
Host a holiday meal for senior citizens
Make birthday cards for the elderly
Donate and decorate a Christmas tree at a nursing home
Organize a family day for residents of a retirement home and relatives to play games together
Ask residents of a retirement home to tell you about their lives
Pick up medicine for an elderly neighbor
Perform a concert or play at a senior center
Help elderly neighbors clean their homes and organize their belongings
Rake leaves, shovel snow, or wash windows for a senior citizen
- Deliver cookies to a homebound senior citizen
Helping Animals and the Environment
Take care of cats and dogs at an animal shelter
Clean up a local park
Raise money to provide a bulletproof vest for a police dog
Plant a tree for Arbor Day
Place a bird feeder and bird fountain in your backyard
Start a butterfly garden in your community
Sponsor a recycling contest
Grow flowers in your backyard then give bouquets to hospital patients or people who are housebound
Help create a new walking trail at a nature center or park
Update the signs along a nature trail
Adopt an acre of rainforest
Help train service dogs
Participate in the cleanup of a local river, pond, or lake
Foster animals that shelters don’t have space for
Organize a spay and neuter your pet program
Care for a neighbor’s pet while they are away
Sponsor an animal at your local zoo
Train your pet to be a therapy animal and bring it to hospitals or nursing homes
Build and set up a bird house
Organize a carpool to reduce car emissions
Campaign for more bike lanes in your town
Volunteer at a nature camp and teach kids about the environment
Test the water quality of a lake or river near you
- Plant native flowers or plants along highways
Helping the Hungry and/or Homeless
Build a house with Habitat for Humanity
Donate your old clothes
Volunteer at a soup kitchen
Donate old eyeglasses to an organization that collects that and distributes them to people in need
Donate non-perishable food to a food bank
Donate blankets to a homeless shelter
Host a Thanksgiving dinner for people who may not be able to afford their own
Offer to babysit or nanny for a family in need
Make “care kits” with shampoo, toothbrushes, combs, etc. to donate to homeless shelters
Prepare a home-cooked meal for the residents of a nearby homeless shelter
Collect grocery coupons to give to a local food bank
Help repair or paint a local homeless shelter
Donate art supplies to kids in a homeless shelter
Help organize and sort donations at a homeless shelter
Babysit children while their parents look for jobs
Become a Big Buddy for children at a homeless shelter
Take homeless children on outings
Bake a batch of cookies or loaf of bread and deliver it to a soup kitchen
Build flower boxes for Habitat for Humanity houses
Organize a winter clothes drive to collect coats, hats, scarves, and gloves to be donated
Make first aid kits for homeless shelters
Reducing Crime and Promoting Safety
Volunteer at a police station or firehouse
Become a certified lifeguard and volunteer at a local pool or beach
Paint over graffiti in your neighborhood
Organize a self-defense workshop
Organize a drug-free campaign
Sponsor a drug-free post-prom event
Start or join a neighborhood watch program
Create and distribute a list of hotlines for people who might need help
Teach a home-alone safety class for children
Create a TV or radio public service announcement against drug and alcohol use
Become CPR certified
- Volunteer as a crossing guard for an elementary school
Promoting Community Enhancement
Paint park benches
Donate used books to your local library
Become a tour guide at your local museum
Repaint community fences
Plant flowers in bare public areas
Organize a campaign to raise money to buy and install new playground equipment for a park
Participate in or help organize a community parade
Clean up vacant lot
Produce a neighborhood newspaper
Campaign for more lighting along poorly lit streets
Create a newcomers group in your neighborhood to help welcome new families
Petition your town leaders to build more drinking fountains and public restrooms
Volunteer to clean up trash at a community event
Adopt a local highway or road and clean up trash along it
Help fix or raise funds to repair a run-down playground
Clean up after a natural disaster
Now that you know what your options are for community service, you can take the following steps to start getting involved:
1.Look over your interests: Which activities seem most appealing to you? Were they mostly in one particular category, like children or the environment? If so, that's a good starting place for choosing specific organizations to contact.
2. Figure out how much time you can devote to community service: Are you available for two hours every week? Are you not free on a regular basis but can volunteer for an entire weekend now and then? Think about transportation as well and how you'll be able to get to different locations. Knowing this information will help you choose which community service projects to pursue, and it's helpful information for volunteer coordinators to know.
3. Do some research to see what projects you can do in your community: Check at your school, place of worship, or town hall for more information on volunteering. You can also contact the place where you’d like to perform your community service, such as a particular animal shelter or nursing home, and ask if they take volunteers.
4. Start volunteering! This list ranges from small projects that you can complete on your own in a few hours, to much larger projects that will take more time and people. If you find a project you can start on your own, do it! If you want to do a project where you’ll need more resources or people, check around your community to see if a similar program already exists that you can join. If not, don’t be afraid to start your own! Many organizations welcome new volunteers and community service projects.
Considering doing volunteer work in another country?Read our guide on volunteer abroad programs and learn whether or not you should participate in one.
Are you in college or will be starting soon? Extracurriculars are one of the best parts of college! Check out our guide to learn which extracurricular activities you should consider in college.
Did you know that you can use your community service work to help pay for college? Check out our step-by-step guide on how to win community service scholarships.
Struggling to write about extracurriculars on your college application? Check out our in-depth guide to crafting a compelling narrative about your extracurriculars. Read it for free now: