Teach Kids to be Thankful and Simple Ways to Give Back-2.pngGive BackNovember is the perfect time of year to step back and reflect on your life. Be thankful for what you have, and help those that are in need.

The following opportunities are great ways to have fun with your children at home while making a difference in your community.

Fleece Blankets
A no-sew project, making fleece blankets which are then distributed to various agencies across the metro area including domestic violence shelters and homeless shelters. fleece-tie-blanket-kidsCaring Connection can provide the pattern along with assembly instructions. They can also order the fleece at a discounted price of 2.99 per yard, but two weeks advance notice is required. Our directions require 1.5 yds. of fabric per blanket.

  • Total cost per blanket is approximately $4.50
  • Time estimate: it takes 2 volunteers 30 to 45 minutes to make one blanket.


Healthy Snack Packs
Create healthy snacks pack for distribution to children in shelters or after school programs. The group hosting the project purchases the supplies and gathers volunteers to assemble the snack packs. Have some fun and use your creativity in decorating paper lunch bags.kids-helpful In addition to markers, consider using stickers and scrapbooking supplies to send a message of hope to the recipient. Put a smile on the face of a child and food in their tummies! Every snack pack/paper bag should have a napkin, spoon and the following:

  • Beverage: (Pick one per pack), juice box, non-refrigerated milk or chocolate milk box
  • Main Item: (one or two per pack), packaged cereal cup, granola or Nutrigrain bar
  • Fruit Item: (one per pack) fresh fruit (apple, banana or Orange), fruit snacks, applesauce or fruit cup
  • Approximate cost for 100 non-perishable bundles:
    • Juice boxes: 36 for $9 x3 = $27
    • Applesauce cups: 36 for $9 x3 = $27
    • Granola bars:  30 for $7.30 x 4 = $29.60
  • Total for 100 snack packs = $84 or for 50 bundles = $50
  • Time estimate: 1 person can make about 30 in one hour depending on how creative they get with decorating the bags.

Make Someone Happy Greeting Cards
Use your artistic talents to create note cards or greeting cards for seniors or youth, with messages of cards of encouragement, just to say hello, congratulations etc.. Most of the seniors are in nursing homes.  If you are considering cards for seniors, here are a few do’s and don’ts:  do not use neon colored paper because of vision challenges and write big for the same reason.  Be as creative as you want.

  • Costs: Little or nothing depending on what supplies you have on hand or that volunteers can bring from home.
  • Time estimate: 1 person can make about 12 in one hour.thanksgiving.kids.card

Calling All Sandwich Makers  
Sandwich providers are needed to prepare meat and cheese sandwiches which are given to shelter guests for lunch. Providers must purchase the food items needed for the sandwiches – a minimum of 100 sandwiches is desired. Sandwiches should contain at least one slice of meat and one slice of cheese. Please use meats such as salami, ham, turkey, bologna or roast beef. Do not use tuna, chicken salad, peanut butter and jelly, or any other condiments. Each sandwich should be wrapped individually in a sandwich bag and placed back in the original bread bag for easy storage. Caring Connection will provide you with a list of shelters who will take your sandwiches.

Approximate Costs for 100 sandwiches:

  • Total for 100 sandwiches: $51
    • 1 loaf of bread = 32 slices/ 16 sandwiches. $3.76 for two loaves – 7 loaves = $15
    • 1 lb. of lunch meat makes 16 sandwiches. 2/20 oz. packs turkey – $7 x 3= $21
    • Cheese – 120 slices – 5 lbs. $8
    • Sandwich bags – $7
  • Time estimate: 1 person can do 60 sandwiches in one hour.


Create Family Packets of Laundry Soap
Have fun with your family & friends while you work packaging laundry soap into smaller containers to be distributed to low-income families visiting your area food shelf. Food stamps don’t cover the cost of laundry detergent so many people go without. Your group will provide the dry laundry detergent and reclosable plastic bags (like Ziploc®)! Each bag needs to be labeled with permanent marker – “Laundry Soap – two loads”.

  • Approximate Costs:  A 32.5 pound box of dry laundry detergent can be purchased at area discount stores for less than $15 and will create 100 packages containing enough for two loads of clothes each.
  • Estimated cost: Three boxes of detergent = $45.  Ziploc bags – 1 qt. double seal- 300 = $24. Total to provide 300 packets of laundry detergent:  $69
  • Time estimate: 1 person can do 60 packets in one hour. 

Birthday Blitz Kits
Creates gift bags with the components needed for a birthday celebration:  cake mix, frosting, candles, disposable cake pans, etc. These are used by shelters and other agencies to provide the ingredients for a birthday celebration for low-income children. An effort should be made to see that one “lasting” item like a plush animal or book is in each bag.

  • Cost will vary for each birthday bag, and quantity
  • Time estimate varies with each birthday bag.


Bright Smiles Dental Drive & Assembly Project
Bright Smiles is aimed at improving the oral health of children ages 5 and under and their families. Services reach children who are most at-risk for experiencing poor oral health and least able to access dental care, particularly families living in low-income circumstances, immigrants and refugees. Tooth decay is nearly 100 percent preventable, yet according to the U.S. Surgeon General, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease.

Gather and assemble dental supply kits for young children.

  • Soft toothbrushes (appropriate for 1 – 5 years olds)
  • Children’s toothpaste – less fluoride and more appealing to young children
  • Children’s dental floss – wild berry flavor is a favorite!
  • Wash cloth for wiping infants gums
  • Supplies can be placed in large zip-lock bags for ease in distribution
  • Cost for the project varies substantially based on which type of kit you do and how you purchase the supplies.
  • Time estimate: 1 person can make about 100 in one hour.dental-bags-kids.jpg

Please note that these projects must be booked in advance with Volunteer United (thru United Way). They need to locate and notify recipient organizations that these products are being donated as storage space is often limited. They like to spread the wealth among our community partners to ensure as many as possible benefit from your volunteer efforts. Read more about United Way here.

Related Search: Click here to learn about additional fun opportunities to volunteer with your kids outside your home.

If you’re interested in learning more about any of these opportunities please send an email to the following VolunteerUnited@gtcuw.org or call 612-340-7440.

Thank you

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