make a difference

100 Ways for Your Family to Make a Difference

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As parents, we need to teach our children to make a difference in the lives of others.

Every year our office takes part in something special. We pack shoeboxes of toys and supplies to send to children in need all over the world. It’s called Operation Christmas Child. The process is short and easy, and it is a great way for you and your family to bless people this holiday season. As parents, we need to teach our children to make a difference in the lives of others.

Around the dinner table tonight, discuss what your family might be called to do to help those who desperately need you. Whether it’s changing the trajectory of a child’s life half a world away or raking an elderly neighbor’s lawn, the importance of helping your children to think outside themselves can’t be emphasized enough. Here are 100 ways to make a difference as a family.

    1. Participate in Operation Christmas Child.
    2. Babysit for a single mom.
    3. Teach compassion with a Family Giving Box.
    4. Bake cookies for your local fire department.
    5. Pick up trash at a local park as a family field trip.
    6. Create snack packs for Ronald McDonald House residents.
    7. Welcome a new family to the neighborhood with a dessert and an introduction.
    8. Pray for the poor of the world.
    9. Color a coloring page for Color a Smile, to be given to lift someone in need up.
    10. Make a baby care kit for a baby in need.
    11. Take time each week to unplug as a family.
    12. Donate your time or treasure to the Make a Wish Foundation.
    13. Appreciate your church staff in some small, tangible way.
    14. Do yardwork for an elderly neighbor.
    15. Make a Life Book for a child in Foster Care.
    16. Volunteer to cuddle babies at the hospital (older kids/teens are often allowed also).
    17. Read Christmas Jars as a family.
    18. Save loose change in a jar and give it to a needy family at Christmas.
    19. Take a family volunteering vacation.
    20. Stop and say thank you to grocery clerks and servers at restaurants. Ask how they are doing.
    21. Become a sponsor to help pregnant girls in Kenya.
    22. Bake a birthday cake for an underprivileged child.
    23. Serve at home: make each other’s beds, clean up someone else’s mess.
    24. Write thank-you notes to people who serve you: postman, landscaper, doctor.
    25. Sponsor a child monthly.
    26. Make relief kits for disaster victims.
    27. Sew a sleeping bag for someone in need.
    28. Volunteer for a non-profit.
    29. Create hygiene bags to hand out to homeless people.
    30. Take a family tour of the local Red Cross.
    31. Put a monthly date on the calendar for a Family Service Night.
    32. Deliver a meal to a family that has a newborn baby.
    33. Create a card for a new Habitat for Humanity homeowner.
    34. Encourage your older children to be a helper to a mom who has young kids.
    35. Fill a backpack and give it to a homeless person.
    36. Make birthday cards and deliver them to a local nursing home monthly.
    37. Take your kids to a local food pantry with canned goods to donate.
    38. Deliver food for Meals on Wheels.
    39. Pray as a family on a regular basis for the people in your life.
    40. Donate your hair to Locks of Love.
    41. Give blood. Take your kids with you and explain the importance.
    42. Donate nice toys to a children’s hospital for kids who have cancer.
    43. Buy a mosquito net for/through a malaria prevention organization.
    44. Randomly celebrate each other with a special treat, meal, or time.
    45. Donate school supplies to a classroom in need.
    46. Compliment and thank the teachers in your life.
    47. Buy a soccer ball for a child in poverty.
    48. Give a bicycle to a homeless person.
    49. Donate coloring books and crayons to hospital emergency rooms.
    50. Host a 40-hour famine in your home (fast from something!).
    51. Give clothes to a family in need (call your church/school to find one).
    52. Read to a special needs child.
    53. Drink no beverages except for water for two weeks and give the money you save to an organization that provides clean water to people who need it.
    54. Buy a goat for a family in extreme poverty.
    55. Give a donation in a loved one’s name to an organization you believe in.
    56. Send your used shoes to Reuse-a-Shoe.
    57. Become Certified Respite Caregivers to babysit for foster families.
    58. Decorate a Christmas tree at an elderly person’s house.
    59. Hold a collection drive for a women’s shelter.
    60. Volunteer at a food bank.
    61. Deliver popsicles to children at a homeless shelter.
    62. Offer your pet for therapy to the elderly.
    63. Deliver homemade art to residents at a nursing home.
    64. Have regular “family nights” with games, ice cream, time together.
    65. Visit a NICU with treats for the doctors and parents.
    66. Write to unsponsored children.
    67. Read to patients at a local hospital.
    68. Plan a family mission trip.
    69. Bake cookies, host a bake sale, and donate the money to the poor or a cause.
    70. Volunteer at a local animal shelter.
    71. Plant a garden and share the produce.
    72. Hold a drive for lightly-used stuffed animals for a police station’s SAFE program.
    73. Give a microloan to change life for a family in a third world country.
    74. Smile. At everyone.
    75. Make care packages for children in the hospital.
    76. Instead of birthday gifts, ask for donations to a charity or food for a food pantry.
    77. Shop fair trade.
    78. Offer to decorate hospital hallways during the holidays.
    79. Ask your city about volunteering to remove graffiti.
    80. Host a Lemon-AID stand and donate the proceeds to Blood Water.
    81. Make no-sew fleece blankets for Hospice.
    82. Read the Bible together as a family every day.
    83. Collect shoes for an organization that provides shoes for kids who need them.
    84. Let kids choose a charity to donate to for one of their Christmas gifts.
    85. Pay for someone’s drink in a Starbuck’s drive-through. Make sure your kids witness and enjoy the act of kindness.
    86. Help your kids start a neighborhood or school Bible study with their peers.
    87. Volunteer to plant flowers at your school or church.
    88. Make a care bag for a child in need.
    89. Adopt a child.
    90. Welcome a hero home at the airport.
    91. Complain less.
    92. Start a Kindness Club with your family.
    93. Let your light shine!
    94. Look for opportunities to be the difference in someone’s life.
    95. Host a virtual food drive.
    96. Purchase gifts through families fundraising for adoption.
    97. Make a difference by making a quilt for a NICU family.
    98. Pay the toll for the car behind you.
    99. Invite friends to Vacation Bible School.
    100. Bring someone flowers from your garden.

Used with permission from Kristen Welch.

Sound off: What are some ways your family has made a difference in someone’s life?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Who is in need right now and how can we help that person?”