2017-2018 National Youth Activities Ambassador
10 Holiday Service Projects for Youth
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are now looking forward to Christmas and other winter holidays. This is a perfect time of year to engage youth in positive programs as they will be on an extended break from school and looking for things to do (besides playing on their electronic devices)! Research shows that when youth are involved in positive community service they are much less likely to choose risky paths of behavior that can lead to alcohol drug and abuse.
Many Posts and Auxiliaries have community service projects planned throughout the holiday season. Ask youth to participate in these events or take the lead on the project(s)! They will develop a deeper understanding of the need to help others and how good it feels to help someone else. Service projects include, but are not limited to:
- Preparing food baskets for the less fortunate.
- Hosting a blanket/coat/clothing drive.
- Adopting-A-Family or –Child in need.
- Decorating the home of a disabled or elderly veteran, or the home of military family whose service member is deployed during the holiday season.
- Singing carols or performing a holiday skit at a medical facility or retirement community.
- Shoveling snow, raking leaves, cleaning gutters, and/or stacking wood.
- A make and take event (ornaments, baked goods, jewelry, etc.); youth make something and give it to a loved one as a gift.
- Serving a meal at the Post, community center or homeless shelter.
- Gift wrapping service with the money going to the VFW National Home for Children.
- Stuffing stockings with socks, toiletries, baby wipes, a reusable water bottle and snacks to donate to a local homeless shelter. Alternatively, stockings could be stuffed with toys and donated to a local children’s home or foster care agency. Ask youth for gift ideas – they know what other youth really want!
Want to do more than one service project? Make a day of it! Organize a service day in your community this December. Encourage families to participate and offer cookies and beverages to your hard-working volunteers. Take time during these service projects to talk with youth and learn what other service projects and activities they would be interested in completing in the community.
If a youth group participates in a service project, please submit a Youth Group Supporting Our Veterans Citation Application to your Department Youth Activities Chairmen. If a service project is completed by an individual youth, print out a Patriotic Youth Award from the website for them. Don’t forget to thank them for their time! A little “thanks” goes a long way!
Remember to utilize social media to promote your events and service projects. If you don’t know how to use Facebook, Instagram Twitter or Snapchat, ask youth in your community to come and help you. The youth of today are VERY tech savvy!
We must always remember as We Catch the Dream for Our Veterans, the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow; leaders of our country, our communities and our own organization. By engaging them through the goals of our Youth Activities Program, we can enrich their lives with patriotism while they learn about our veterans and the sacrifices they made to maintain the freedoms we enjoy daily.
I wish you all a very happy holiday season and look forward to hearing about your awesome holiday service projects!