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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Children's Outreach ideas...that they can DO!

As someone who has a heart for missions, I want to be sure I make that a big part of my own family and my ministry at church.  I think it's important for children to DO for others for many reasons...

1.  It teaches them compassion
2.  They see that there are more important things than "stuff" and electronics
3.  It helps them appreciate what they do have; and, 
4.  It helps teach them diversity and expand their little world around them.

One of the most common mission activity for children (especially young children) that I see in schools and churches is to collect something - money, clothes, toys, books, etc.  This is a great way for children to think of others and see their family in action. 
We did this quarter tube collection during VBS to benefit Heifer International.  You can see that we marked the tube at different spots to show how much it would cost to buy a sheep, chicken, etc.  They were BEGGING their parents for quarters so that we could buy 2 pigs :)  And they ended up filling up two tubes!!

We need to make sure that this isn't the only way we teach kids to help others though.  Although we should definitely keep doing these types of things, we need to add some variety to our repertoires!  Let's face it, the four thousand times I've gotten notes home from either church or school about buying items and sending them in for a collection this year, I may or may not have thrown half of them in the trash.  It can become overwhelming - especially for families who don't have extra cash laying around to buy these things.  Sometimes, it's used stuff from home and if that's the case, I have the children help me look for things (shoes, clothes, gently used toys) that we can give away.  The times I have bought items to donate, I sheepishly admit I got them during the day when they were at school...defeating the whole purpose.  The one exception was when we sponsored a few children at Christmas and we took a trip to Target to buy the gifts.

So, I've been thinking for years about how we can DO missions with our children instead of just showing or being an example.  We know children learn the best by doing so let's help them actually be the helping hands when we do missions...and not just dropping money in a jar (please don't think I'm slamming these types of outreach opportunities.  we have to do them, but we need a variety). Thanks to a few facebook groups I'm in, google, pinterest and my own ideas I have a great list that will help us get started with integrating missions into our families and churches!

If you've done one that isn't on the list please let me know!  Everyone thinks differently and hearing ideas from others is what ministry is all about!
God bless!
...every child loves animals - especially preschoolers!
There are many things you can do with animals - they need our love and support as well!! Here are a few...
This picture was taken when we were on our intergenerational mission trip and the kids went to the animal shelter to donate some homemade toys.

1.  Invite a local animal shelter to your next meeting - many will come free of charge or with a donation.  When I did this, they brought 4-5 different types of animals they currently had in their shelter, talked about how to care for them, why they come to the shelter and how we could help.
2.  At the end of their presentation, the children made doggy treats for them to take back and give to the dogs in the shelter :)
3.  On our local animal shelter webpage it lists items that they need and ways you can help.  Check yours out!  On ours, it lists animal toys... and pinterest has many ways to make homemade cat and dog toys...something fun the children would love to make!  (see pic above!)
4.  I had a friend whose little girl had her birthday party at their local animal shelter!  What an awesome idea...Taking a small church group would be neat as well.

Retirement and Nursing Homes
...every church has someone in a nursing home or your church may even have a relationship with one specific site (we have one next door that we work with).  Working with these homes is such a win-win for both sides and I've found some really neat ideas that I bet you've never though of! I certainly had not!
5.  If you haven't already invested in a $30 laminator from Wal-mart - DO IT!  These things are the BEST.  You can do 8 1/2 x 11 sheets or the legal size paper...which brings me to the next thing - place mats!  This is such a super and fun idea for the kids and for those that will be receiving them. The placemats can be put on individual trays in specific rooms or put in the cafeteria on the tables.  If you laminate them, they can be used over and over.  The children can draw pictures, put on stickers, write personal messages, glue on pictures (maybe even pictures of the kids at the nursing home from the previous year)!  You could also glue on wordsearches or other puzzles that can be done with dry erase markers.  I don't recommend glitter (it doesn't laminate well), and if you are going to glue things like pictures or thicker items, use regular paper...the thicker the final product the less likely it will laminate.  
6.  Singing - we've all done that.  Sing at Christmas, perform choir songs, musicals, etc.  Everyone enjoys it :)

7.  Birthday bags - I LOVE this idea.  Put together birthday bags for the residents (or if there are too in our case...just make them for your church member residents).  Some suggestions - a birthday plate, birthday hat, blower, birthday napkin, bead necklace, hand made card and a candle :) You can actually hand deliver them on their birthday or leave them in their mailboxes or send them at the beginning of the month...depending on your availability.
8.  My grandmother loves decorating her door at her retirement home and the one next to us actually gives each resident a shelf to put decorations outside their doors.  This provides a great opportunity at ANY holiday to make a cute decoration and take it over to them.
9.  An interesting suggestion that I would never have thought of - many of these homes/centers have bulletin boards and would probably love to have a group volunteer to make/decorate one every now and then!  Personally, I like interactive bulletin boards - something the residents could add to/participate in.
10.  There are some pretty cheap clear bird feeders (like this one on amazon).  you could buy a few for some of your shut ins so they can put them up in their rooms in the windows.  These could easily be decorated with sharpies!  
linked to Amazon

11.  Make centerpieces (seasonal or regular) for the tables in the cafeteria.
12.  Ask your church to continuously send in glass jars with lids.  Have a box always nearby where you can collect them.  This is something we are going to start can decorate these jars in SO many different ways and fill them with candy, trinkets, seasonal items, candles, pens/pencils, soup mixes, cookie mixes, etc. Give them as gifts to anyone!
13.  I learned about a program called Advent Angels in one church I worked in.  It was such a wonderful idea, that I implemented in all my other churches as well!  You can click the link for more info, but you get together before advent and make 4 gifts.  Then, you assign each family a shut in, or someone who is sick, or someone who has just lost a loved one (anyone who could use cheering up this Christmas!).  The family takes one gift (in secret) to their assigned person each week of advent.  The last week, they reveal themselves.  It was always such a wonderful blessing to everyone involved!

One of our Advent angels crafts.

This is probably the most widely done mission project with children.  There are many ideas and here are a few to get you started...

14.  for the children's ward/hospital waiting rooms - make the placemats mentioned above but cut out mazes, word searches, coloring pages, Bible verses, etc and glue them on the mats!  tape a dry erase marker to it :)
These mats would also be great for "older siblings" waiting in the maternity ward - for when siblings visit or have to be there when their new baby sister/brother is born :)
15.  make children's activity bags
16.  make pens with flowers for receptionists at hospitals/doctor's offices
17.  one suggestion was to make small pillows for cancer patients - adults can sew the outside and children can stuff them and pin a card to them.  Or, you could purchase the "tie pillows" from Michaels and the kids can tie them closed themselves.
18.  this is a different idea - but would require a lot of donated items - to put together snack bags for families and friends waiting in the ICU unit during surgeries.  It was also mentioned that blankets could be included
.  make cards for different holidays to deliver to other children


20.  Police Appreciation Bags - these could really be made for any of our community helpers.  One suggestion that was made by a nurse was to make little appreciation buttons that they can wear :) These can be handmade by the children! You can even use one of the glass jars mentioned above to put all the buttons in!
Dropping off a basket at our local fire station.

21.  To go along with the one above, I asked some of my community helper friends (nurses, firemen, policemen, etc) what kids could make for them that they would like...especially when they have to work a long shift.  Here are some great ideas - mints/tic tacs, hand made cards with funny jokes inside about their profession, buttons of appreciation, health bars, a picture of the kids making the gift, Bible verses/bookmarks with verses about servant hood, chapstick, lotion (these can be decorated...we even made chapstick coozies once :), fruit and water bottles (which can also be decorated!)
22.  I'm sure there is a Habitat for Humanity group near you...your church may even be involved.  The children can help put together lunch bags or snack bags for them one day, or decorate the lunch bags...and maybe even deliver them to the site!


23.  Make fleece scarves - where you cut the fringes on the ends.  Even preschoolers can do this!
24.  Socks of love - fill one sock up with toiletry items, put the other sock inside and deliver them to a shelter near you
 Make fleece blankets, or, the older kids can make the "knot" this one - just buy lots of fabric and cut two pieces equally!  This one is a kit from oriental trading but you could do it yourself!
Blue & White Fleece Tied Blanket Craft Kit
26.  Buy white pillowcases in bulk and some fabric markers.  Let the kids go to it and then donate them to a nearby shelter.


.  Help keep the outside of the church beautiful!  They can plant flowers/a garden, weed, rake, pick up trash (with gloves), etc.
These kids are helping plant a flower garden at one of our houses at our Intergenerational mission trip.  But you could do this at your church, at a member's house, a local school, etc.

28.  What does your church need?  Can you help?  We wanted a bench for our children's hallway - so, during VBS one year, we constructed one!  The classes each painted a chair, and then put their handprints on a board.  Then we put them all together!  It turned out beautiful :) 

29.  If you church has a library the children can make bookmarks that people can take when they check out a book, and older children can help reshelve books (and this is a great way for them to see what your library has to offer!).
30.  Bless the leaders in your church by acknowledging them - secretary's day, Pastor appreciation week, give your Session some handmade cards/gifts for Christmas, teacher appreciation week, etc.

the kids helped decorate our pastors' doors without homemade cards for Pastor Appreciation week!

31.  If you have a mission team going on a trip soon, have them make something to give out to the children (play-doh, hair ties, cards, etc).
32.  Many churches have a quilters group.  Ask them how the children can get involved.  Maybe they can decorate squares that the quilters can put together.  Or perhaps they can even help sew the quilts together.  You can make blankets to give to new babies in the church, or children who were baptized...or children sick in the hospital.
33.  Most churches do the operation Christmas child boxes.  Something easy and cute that younger elementary age children can make are hair ties - buy large packs of them at the dollar store and then buy lots of ribbons.  The children can tie the ribbons onto the hairbands!
34.  If your church participates in Meals on Wheels, the children can decorate paper bags and/or cards to send with the meals :)

35.  Help keep the inside of your church beautiful!  Help refill papers and such in the pews, sharpen pencils, pick up trash after Sunday worship, wash the windows, clean the toys in the nursery, etc. We did this mission project once during one of our VBS's! 

Here you see the kids dusting, wiping the pews and sharpening the pencils, and washing windows!

36.  Find out what missionaries your church supports.  Write them letters and send cards.
37.  RAKS! (Random Acts of Kindness) Do a pinterest search on this and you'll find TONS of ideas!  There are so many things you could do in your church, outside on your church grounds, and in your surrounding community.  Here is a very simple one our 4th/5th graders did and put them up all around the church for anyone to take!

Out in the Community!
38.  One of the programs we started at our last church was something we called "Gone Servin'".  You can read more about it at the link, but basically we took our church's worship service outside our four walls and into the community to serve.  Every age was welcome!  One time we went to our two closest elementary schools and raked leaves, picked up trash, and "chalked them" (wrote positive things for them to see on Monday morning!).  

There are so many ways to get your kids out there and serving others!!
God bless and happy serving :)

Check out my teachers pay teachers store for religious games to play with your group and religious escape rooms! 

In Christ,


  1. So many fantastic ideas, do you have any for fundraising?

  2. So many fantastic ideas, do you have any for fundraising?

  3. I just wrote a blog for fundraising! It took a while, but it's done :)