2022-2023 will have a Focus on Food Insecurity and we have brought back the "Four Seasons of Giving".
Service to others has always been an important part of the 4-H club program. One part of the 4-H pledge states, “I pledge my hands to larger service.” An entire section of the 4-H Summary Record is dedicated to the documentation of community service done by each 4-H member.
4-H groups often conduct community service projects in local communities where they meet. These projects include community beautification, collecting donations for food pantries, raising money for charities, volunteering in nursing homes and donating needed items to hospice and hospitals, to name just a few.
Find the details about our current list of ideas and incentives. 2022-2023 Four Seasons of Giving
Club leaders will receive an email at the end of each season when it is time to report their results. Thanks in advance for contributing to this statewide effort!
These curriculum lessons delve into topics relative to the annual statewide food drive and deal with issues such as food insecurity, homelessness, food collection, and also touch on consumerism.
While they can be used in whatever order you choose, you may like to begin with What’s the Truth About Hunger?” to get ideas and conversation started and to better understand why Massachusetts 4-H holds an annual food drive. Then, perhaps, the club should decide if they’d like to visit a soup kitchen or a food pantry, or possibly discuss how food is dated, or maybe they want to learn more about homelessness next. Whatever they choose, the lessons can be modified for different size groups and various ages. These lessons can be used individually or as a collection.
Materials that are associated with the lessons can be borrowed from your local 4-H office, such as the game needed for the lesson “Feast or Famine”.
This curriculum is meant to offer support for the 4-H Food Drive, but there are many other non-profits that deal with these topics exclusively, some of which are referenced in the lessons. Please take some time to visit their websites and learn more about their outstanding work.
Community Service Ideas
The following seasonal list of project suggestions is designed only to stimulate ideas. There are an infinite number of projects that clubs can do that will make community impact, while increasing members' leadership skills, citizenship and self-efficacy. Please brainstorm with your club or leaders and start on a community service project today! Contact recipients before you collect as needs change.
Helping Senior Citizens and/or Shut-ins
You can find people in need of help by contacting a local senior center, social service agency, church, council on aging or local government information center. Explain what type of service you'd like to do or ask what you can do to help seniors or shut-ins in the area.
- Shovel their driveway and walks
- Spread ice remover (be sure to ask what they want to use first)
- Wash & vacuum cars
- Mow lawns (have an adult supervise!)
- Clean and/or sweep out their garage
- Change glass storm windows and doors for the screens or vs.
- Wash windows
- Help acquire library materials
- Organize a free computer class at the senior center or library
- Sew on a loose button
- Set up skyping and/or a secure Facebook page for them to use with family
- Put out or take in lawn ornaments - birdbaths, gazing globes, etc.
- Clean and fill birdfeeders
- Deliver a snack
- Pick up groceries like bread and milk
- Go with them on a short walk
- Teach them to use a computer
- Call to see if they need anything
- Bring in the morning newspaper
- Change seasonal decorations as needed
- Make cookies or a meal with them
- See if they have a small home maintenance job you can do
- Write them a letter or send a card / help them write a letter to someone
- Help with Mall shopping
- Help with house cleaning
- Give their dog a bath
- Go with them to help at the vet's office
- Bring a food basket
- Check smoke detector batteries and help acquire them, if necessary
Helping Senior Citizens at Nursing/Rehab Centers
Contact a local nursing home, assisted living center, or rehabilitation center prior to visiting. Explain your intent and ask to be directed to the person in charge of patient or resident services or recreational programming.
- Bring a pet to visit
- Play cars or checkers
- Hold a sing-a-long or a dance
- Talk with them
- Put on a play
- Do art projects with them
- Ask them to teach you how to play a game they like, such as cribbage
- Read to them
- Work with them to record stories of their youth
- Make picture books from cards and give them to a senior center
- Make fleece lap-robes
- Do a planting activity with them
Helping The Environment
There are many environmental organizations that would love various types of assistance from volunteers. Ask town clerks for a list of those in your area and check your local newspaper for their promotional advertisements, events, or meeting postings for contact information. Check to see if your community has a land trust, agricultural commission, or conservation commission. Any of these could point you in the right direction or may have projects of their own that are just waiting for helpers to get started.
- Pick up trash
- Adopt a roadway
- Hold a recycling drive (newspaper, bottles & cans, coats...)
- Plant trees
- Help a non-profit with their trails
- Make bird houses
- Clean and store bird feeders for the fall
- Put up hummingbird feeders
- Plant various kinds of gardens
- Ride your bike to club meetings (always wear a helmet!)
- Start a recycling center at school
- Encourage others to use & buy recycled materials
- Collect unwanted books for donation
- Use recyclable containers for your lunch
- Start a radon awareness campaign
- Make conservation posters for display at a community center
- Start an environmental club or spend part of club time on that topic
Many towns have an animal shelter or rescue league. Talk to the local animal control officer and find out who would be the best person to talk to about a community service project. There are also several non-profits that work to help animals, as well as veterinary clinics who may be in need of helping hands. Ideas on items from Animal Shelters
- Distribute disaster preparedness information about animals
- Create disaster preparedness kits for your own animals!
- Help at an animal shelter - play with the animals, take them for a walk, or clean up
- Hold a pet show
- Foster a shelter animal until a home can be found
- Organize a rabies prevention clinic
- Collect newspapers to donate to shelters
- Hold a dog wash and donate the proceeds to a shelter or purchase something needed
- Become a pet-sitter
- Help find homes for people who have to give up their pet
- Arrange for donation of pet care/food products to food pantries
- Help a vet clinic organize a spay/neuter clinic
- Hold an awareness day with MSPCA
- Ask a wildlife sanctuary if you can help
Helping Children & Families
There are many activities that can be done to help families, but due to respect for personal privacy, it's not always possible to help directly. Work with your local library, places of worship, recreational council to see about arranging activities for children and families. Food pantries may also know of families with specific needs of clothing, school supplies, etc. that you could help anonymously.
- Collect gently used stuffed animals for donation to emergency centers
- Arrange a bike safety day with your local police department
- Collect, clean and repair used baby and toddler clothes for donation to a women's shelter
- Have a club backyard picnic/BBQ with military children and play games
- Refurbish a neglected playground using bright colors
- Make activity/picture books for young children
- Have a children's movie evening or story hour
- Hold a puppet show or sing-a-long with camp songs
- Collect school supplies for donation to those in need
- Offer to help tutor
- Hold a petting zoo
- Have a coat or shoe drive
- Set up a child safety information day and have fun activities
- Hold a book exchange
- Donate food to your local food pantry
- Make cards & care packages for military personnel stationed overseas
Helping The Homeless
Most larger communities have homeless shelters and veteran's services that you can contact for information on how to help. Also, look at town websites to see if there is a resource web page listing support centers and homeless prevention centers.
- Help cook and serve at homeless centers
- Bring gently used clothes & shoes to shelters/homeless centers (ask what they need first!)
- Create homemade scarves, mittens & hats to donate
- Donate food and hygiene products to shelters
- Hold a bake sale and donate the proceeds to a homeless shelter
- Organize a club visit to have a sing-a-long or put on a play at a shelter
- Collect and donate gift certificates to restaurant chains for hot meals
- Plant extra veggies and donate your surplus to a shelter
- Ask a local farm or orchard if your club can glean some produce for donation
- Collect food coupons to donate to a food bank/pantry
- Bake pies, breads, cookies, etc. and donate to a local shelter
- Volunteer to help Habitat for Humanity
- Ask a homeless shelter director what the children there need and help acquire it (books, clothes, toys)
- Provide tutoring for children at a shelter