Teaching a lifetime of values: A family that serves together raises kids who continue to serve

Published: Tuesday, April 17 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

"I was kind of skeptical at first, but it's kind of cool to see what you can get done," said Benjamin Crane, 11. "Plus," he added, poking Brenden in the side, "This guy's my best friend so it's fun."

Serve at home

Make greeting cards to mail to sick children. Hugsandhope.org posts photos and information about children who are struggling with illness and hoping for some happy mail.

Draw pictures for lonely seniors. Deliver them to a nursing home yourselves or mail them to the nonprofit Color A Smile and they'll distribute them for you. Get more information at colorasmile.org.

Buy ingredients for 80 to 100 sandwiches, assemble them and deliver them to a local homeless shelter.

Put together hygiene kits, baby care kits or school kits. Give the kits to a nonprofit like Church World Service (churchworldservice.org/kits) or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (lds.org) for distribution.

Serve in the community

Adopt a grandparent. Ask the volunteer coordinator at a local nursing home to match you with a senior then visit regularly. Read, write letters or play games.

Mentor a refugee family. Refugee resettlement agencies like Catholic Community Services can help introduce you.

Pick up litter then take a photo of what you've picked up. Write an essay about the experience, email it to the Nicodemus Wilderness Project and become certified "apprentice ecologists." Get more info at wildernessproject.org.

Deliver meals to the homebound. Meals on Wheels is always looking for volunteers to deliver hot, nutritious meals at lunchtime Monday through Friday. Visit mowaa.org for more information.

For more ideas, check out doinggoodtogether.org and thevolunteerfamily.org.

EMAIL: estuart@desnews.com, TWITTER: elizMstuart

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