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8 Ideas for Finishing the Summer Helping Others

I LOVE summer, but sometimes I think it can be the most selfish season for our family.

The hustle and bustle of the school year and all that it entails finally winds down (only to pick back up again with back-to-school prep. Sheesh!), and we all get a chance to come up for air for awhile.

I don't know about you, but I put pressure on myself to make sure summer break is a success. And I feel that pressure the most when August is near and we only have a few weeks left to squeeze fun out of the last days of break. I start taking a last-minute inventory of what we’ve done:

  • Did we make enough time for playdates with friends?
  • Did we tackle those forgotten house projects (like cleaning the oven, washing baseboards, and organizing closets, to name a few on my list)?
  • Did we get a chance to learn a new skill, like how to cook or bake a family favorite?
  • Did we read enough?
  • And did we take the biggie—the family vacation? We can’t end summer without one of those!

Then, without realizing it, I’ve stacked the whole summer only thinking about us. My family.

Maybe you've done better at making this summer less self-serving than me. I hope so. But if not, take heart with me that there is still time to do something, for someone, besides our families. There is still time to model to our kids that during summer we can do a lot of things that are hard to do in the school year- including serving others.

With some time left for summertime activities, I’m going to check out some local ideas where I live or try a few of these:

8 Ideas for Finishing the Summer Helping Others

1. Visit a dollar store and create "Hope Bags" (that's what we call them) for the homeless. Include a toothbrush, toothpaste, water bottle, granola bar and piece of fruit in a bag. You can use a gallon size Ziplock or a brown lunch bag. Have your kids decorate the bag or write a small note or prayer to include inside. Keep them in your car to hand out or make a special outing to deliver them.

2. Write thank you notes (or color pictures dependent on children's ages) to military veterans or current active servicemen and women. Just search this idea on the internet and you'll find some options on where and how to send these.

3. Find a neighbor in need and offer help! It may be simple yard work, cleaning the pool, or even just checking for mail and newspapers while they are on vacation.

4. Call your local family emergency shelter and ask if there are ways to get involved or serve as a family. There may be age restrictions but often there are things even young ones can do.

5. A great idea to help kids clean out their rooms and serve others is to have your kids collect things they don't need anymore, then they set up “shop” in a room in your house. Siblings can barter with each other or you can buy the item from your child (to send to a local thrift store or maybe another family in need) and they can use their profits to send to a charity of their choice.

6. Make treats or hand deliver popsicles to your local fire or police station and thank them for their service.

7. Offer to babysit for a single mom, military wife, or a couple who needs a break. Get your children involved and, depending on their age, let them do the work while you supervise.

8. One crazy idea my mom did with my kids once; she had them cut out the grocery coupons from the paper. Then they traveled to the store and found the items in the store and placed the coupon on the item. This was a unique (yet air-conditioned) way to serve and be a blessing to many shoppers.

Get creative. Use your talents. Get your kids involved.

Who knows, it may just be the most fun end-to-the-summer you’ve have all season!

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  • Carrie Smith

    These are all wonderful ideas— thank you!

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