A Family Service Project for Homeless Families

A Family Service Project for Homeless Families

Early this summer, we watched a movie called Little Red Wagon, about a boy who set out to help homeless people. It all started with a neighborhood food drive. By the end of the movie we were all inspired. When it was over, I thought, "hmm, our city surely has some homeless shelters, I wonder what we could do to help." That's how our project began, and now that it's complete, I thought I'd share how this family service project unfolded and hopefully inspire some of you to find a way to serve your community with your kids!

Step By Step How to Help a Local Homeless Shelter

I started by doing an Internet search for local shelters and soon found one that caters to women and families. I found a website and a facebook page and quickly saw that they were looking for food donations as well as items for a kids' program they run on weekends. It didn't take long to find a couple of contact emails and soon I was in touch with a volunteer who runs the kids' program and another person who could tell me what food items they are most in need of right now.

Choose a Food Bank or Shelter

We decided to run a neighborhood food drive to collect food donations for that shelter. When we heard that the kids' program was in need of small toys to use as prizes for the games they play, I immediately thought of Hasbro. We really love Hasbro and have been privileged to work with them several times in the past (most notably when they sent our kids some toys after they lost the majority of theirs to smoke damage). 

I was so happy that they wanted to partner with us again, to help us with our project to help this local shelter. It was an exciting day when these packages arrived from Hasbro! We couldn't wait to open them up and see what toys they had sent.

Toys for Homeless Shelter Kids

They sent nearly 200 little toys from their different collectible toy lines! They would be the perfect size for prize toys for the kids' programs at the shelter.

Hasbro Collectible Surprise Toys

Here's a closer look at the seven different kinds of surprise toys they sent:

1. Lock Stars
2. Lost Kitties
3. Ugly Dolls
4. Transformers Rescue Bots Academy
5. My Little Pony Cutie Mark Crew
6. Littlest PetShop Lucky Pets
7. Power Rangers Micro Morphers

Toy Donation from Hasbro

Each of these toys has a surprise element to it, so we were excited for the fun they would bring to some kids whose families have been having a difficult time. The movie we watched followed the story of a young boy & his mother who ended up homeless and had to leave most of their possessions behind. We could imagine what it must be like to receive (or have your child receive) even a small fun toy after something like that and I'm excited that we could help to send some joy their way in the midst of a struggle! 

Make a Flyer

We put together a flyer that was written like a letter to our neighbors, explaining who we are, what we're doing, who we're donating to, what items are most needed, and when we would pick up the items. 

Get Bags

This step isn't necessary, but it definitely made things easier! A friend of mine had done a neighborhood food drive recently and she was able to buy some bags from a local grocery store whose bags are bright yellow and handed them out to her neighbors with the invitation to donate. I thought this was a great idea because it would help our flyers to stand out and it would make it easy for us to be able to tell which homes had donations for us when we did our pick up.

Attach Flyers to Bags

We decided to hand out 100 bags to see what kind of participation we would get since it was our first time trying something like this. We stapled a flyer to each bag- this is a great job for kids to help with.

How to Organize a Neighbourhood Food Drive

Deliver the Bags/Flyers

We handed out the flyers on a super hot Saturday, with a heat warning and not a cloud in the sky. The only time we had available to do it was during peak heat hours, so none of us will forget that experience! We came home and were melting ice cubes on our skin to cool down!

How to set up a neighborhood food drive

Pick Up Donations

Pick Up time was scheduled for the following Saturday morning and everyone was so excited to get started! We drove around the neighborhood, watching for yellow bags on porches and the girls had fun hopping out of the car and loading things into the trunk. We were excited whenever we picked up a yoga mat (something the shelter requested for their kids' programs) and some of the other specially needed items.

service ideas for families

We came home to unload the trunk a couple of times and were excited to see what we were able to gather! 

Neighbourhood Food Drive Step by Step

Deliver Donations

That morning we loaded the car up with donations and drove it over to the shelter.

How to Help a Homeless Shelter Near You

Saying Thank You

 A few days after we made our donation, I received an email from the shelter, thanking us and our neighborhood for our donation. When we set out to gather the donations, we knew that we wanted to send a thank you note to the people who participated, so we took note of each address that left a donation. When we got the thank you email, I put together a little flyer/letter to our neighbors, passing the thanks on to them and delivering them was the final step to complete our project.

Making an Impact - On the Shelter & On Us

Now that the project is complete, I can't help but be impacted by this experience. In the end, it didn't feel like it took as much work & effort as I thought it would. Sure it was work, and it took planning and coordination, but we thoroughly enjoyed doing it, knowing that we were helping people. The amount of work we put in compared to the outcome in the end was more than worth it, and I felt that it was surprisingly easy overall, to make this happen. We had managed to gather a lot of food and donate a lot of toys that will be able to help a lot of people!

We are just one little family and we didn't have a lot of our own money to donate, but with some time and effort, and the help of our neighborhood & Hasbro, we were able to really make a difference. If you have any interest in taking on a project like this, I would encourage you to do so- it was very rewarding and I think it's an awesome thing for kids to be involved with. 

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  1. I love this so much! What a great way to teach our children about helping others and seeing beyond themselves.

    1. Thank you! & yes, it also helps them to experience the joy that comes from serving others!

  2. I love all these donations that you received. Lots of kids are going to benefit.

  3. You're so awesome! I don't believe I've read through something like
    that before. So wonderful to find another person with a few genuine thoughts on this issue.
    Seriously.. thanks for starting this up. This web site
    is one thing that's needed on the web, someone with a little originality!

  4. Your girls are so special to think of doing this! In our area there are so many homeless kids that would love little toys like these.

  5. I love seeing the kids involved in something they can take pride and responsibility to do. Bravo!

  6. Oh my goodness! THIS is amazing! Good on you for getting your littles involved and making a huge difference, not only in their lives but SO MANY OTHERS.

  7. Wow! That's so awesome. Kudos to you, and it's such a great lesson to instill into our children too. The parents at my daughter's preschool helped out a couple of families during Christmas and it was such a good feeling.

    1. Thanks Michael :) It is a great feeling & I'm glad we could get them involved!

  8. What a beautiful thing you organized. So glad that there are people like you in this world! Thank you!

  9. This is so neat! I have put together stuff with my kids for the children's receiving home here in Sacramento. Love when the kids get involved on doing stuff for others!

    1. That's awesome. Yes, it's good for them to have that experience when they're young.

  10. I love this idea so much! Especially since you are involving kids! My kids love doing things like this and I think it's important to teach them to give back.

    1. Thank you! Yes, & it was special to us all because we were specifically helping kids & families, so they could imagine what it might be like to be in their place.

  11. Love this what a really wonderful idea. I’d love to do something like this with my kids. - Jeanine

  12. This is great! So good to teach them how to give back.

  13. This is amazing way to go collecting all this stuff!! You guys knocked it out of the park this is legit the perfect Summer project!

  14. It is such a great idea to take part in the charity thing. I have a son who is 14 years old, last time he told me their home work is to do write an article about donation and charity. I took him to visit library to check some books. After reading this post, I believe next time I will know the better way to do something.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment- I love reading them! :)
~Heather Lynne

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