January 20, 2018

How to Serve Your Community All Year Long

SERVANT LEADERSHIP is a topic I train student leaders in that is popular all year round. Most years I am called on to do a service training at least once every month of the year. I help campus clubs and organizations identify and organize community service projects and show them how to get their members and campus involved in a meaningful way. And as a dedicated servant leader with a lifelong commitment to serving others, it’s good news to me that there seems to be no WRONG TIME of the year to emphasize helping people in your community. Here are a few ideas for year round projects that might get your servant leader juices flowing.

Dave Kelly - How to Serve Your Community All Year Long

Happy Holidays!

It’s normal for students, campuses, volunteer groups and communities to get caught up in the swell of community service projects during the traditional times like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s especially so when it comes to food drives and feeding the homeless and underserved populations. But the reality is that although food banks greatly appreciate these holiday efforts they really need donations year round. So I recommend picking some of the other observances during the year and doing drives around that. Better yet you don’t even need a special occasion or observance. There’s no wrong time to feed someone who’s hungry. I have seen schools do food drives as part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day (an awesome day for a day of service), St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Easter to name a few.

Spring Has Sprung Right Into Summer!

Spring time is a good time to focus on things related to that time of year. Earth Day is in April and that makes it a good time for environmental projects. The green grass is coming back, flowers are blooming, and people feel an energy around the reemergence of good weather. It’s a great time to clean up a neglected neighborhood lot or help the elderly spruce up their properties for spring.

Spring is also the time for spring cleaning so it’s a good time to do a clothing drive for women’s and men’s shelters, or programs that put people back into the work force who need clothes to go to work in. It’s a time to get rid of your old books, movies, and CDs that you’re done looking. Believe me, someone else will get pleasure out of them.  In addition, many students coming back from spring break have realized on their visit home that they still have a box full of toys at home and other items from when they were kids. Why not donate those to some kids in the community who might not have gotten anything for Christmas?

Consider a food drive, clothing drive, community clean-up project or a special project to support during the patriotic celebrations of Memorial Day and Independence Day. There’s never a bad time to send old magazines, care packages or words of encouragement to our homesick troops overseas.

For Mother’s Day and/or Father’s Day it can be very rewarding to spend time with children who may not have one or more of their parents in their lives. Volunteering to read at schools and community centers might be a good way to do this. Call your neighborhood community center at any time and ask them when their needs are for supplies, services and volunteers. You’re assured to find something that you and your group would find fulfilling for you and beneficial for them.

Fall Right Into Community Service!

Fall can be a time to donate school supplies to neighborhood centers during back-to-school time or winter coats and blankets to shelters before the frost sets in. Try dressing up in Halloween costumes and visiting sick children or the elderly to give out candy or treats instead of collecting them – or even trick-or-treating for charity and then delivering what you’ve collected to someone who needs them more than you do. Kicking off your community service efforts at fall orientation is the perfect way to get the service momentum rolling and before you know it the holidays will be roll back around and your efforts will be needed more than ever.

These are but a few ideas I share with the schools I train to have a day or month of community service on their campuses. Keeping the volunteer juices flowing all year long will keep your club or organization involved in your local community, help your members meet their community service requirements and most importantly help instill a lifelong commitment to community service to your club members and fellow students.

“Real leaders don’t ask… ‘What’s in it for me?’ they ask… ‘How can I serve you?'”

Building Leaders Through Service® (BLTS) is a program designed to instill in students a life-long commitment to community service involvement, servant leadership, service learning, and personal development. Find out more about this program and how to bring me to your campus by clicking here.

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About the Author: Dave "Gonzo" Kelly (64 Posts)

Dave Kelly is the leading authority on student leadership and community service on college campuses today. As a professional trainer, motivator, and servant leader, Dave is an expert on all aspects of running and leading campus organizations and developing the character of a servant leader. Dave has 20+ years training leaders and advisors from student government associations, campus activities boards and campus clubs of every kind on organizational leadership and community service projects. He has trained students and advisors at more than 150 different colleges and universities and is the national coordinator for the APCA Serves! Initiative by the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.

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