By Tony Medina
Illustrations by Chandra Cox
(photo by Sheila L. Prevost)
Ever since I was a kid, Christmas has been my favorite time of year. It was when my family and friends came together to share good times and good feelings – not to mention good food and presents! But as I got older, I realized that not everyone was as lucky as I was. Some people didn’t get to eat, let alone receive presents. I wondered what I could do to make Christmas more special for those who were hungry and out in the cold.
I decided to get my friends and family together to collect food and clothing for the homeless in my neighborhood in Harlem. We stayed up all night cooking, until we could barely keep our eyes open. We fed over two hundred people, even whole families! People were so grateful to receive a home-cooked meal and free clothes. When we saw the smiles on their faces, we realized we really had made a difference.
Here are some suggested activities to help you get involved in your community. For many of these projects, you’ll want to get the help of a parent or another adult. You don’t have to limit yourself to these ideas. You can come up with your own ways to help others too!
- Find a soup kitchen and volunteer to serve food or help clean up.
- Make decorations and holiday cards to help lift someone’s spirits.
- Hold a garage sale and donate the money you receive to a charity.
- Collect canned goods, toys, and clothing (especially cold-weather clothes) to donate to a local shelter or soup kitchen.
- Find a senior center near you and see if they take volunteer visitors—you could brighten someone’s day!
- Ask your teacher to invite someone who does community service work to speak to your class. Then everyone can learn more about problems in the community and how to get involved.
- Organize a cleanup day in your neighborhood or school. Help to set up recycling stations and teach people about composting.
50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth
by The Earth Works Group, (Andrews McMeel, 1990, 156 pages)
by Bernard Wolf, (Orchard Books, 1995, 48 pages)
It’s Our World, Too!: Stories of Young People
Who Are Making a Difference
by Philip Hoose, (Little Brown & Co., 1993, 176 pages)
The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects:
Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People
Who Want to Make a Difference
by Barbara A. Lewis (Free Spirit Publishing, 1995, 176 pages)
What a Load of Trash
by Steve Skidmore (The Millbrook Press, 1991, 40 pages)
About This Title
Interest Level:Grades K - 4
Reading Level:Grades 1 - 2
Sharing & Giving, Religion/Spiritual, Home, Holidays/Traditions, Families, African/African American Interest, Empathy/Compassion, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Dreams & Aspirations, Grandparents, Gratitude, Kindness/Caring, Optimism/Enthusiasm, Poverty, Pride, Realistic Fiction, Respect/Citizenship, Responsibility
English Fiction Grades PreK-2, Early Fluent Dual Language, Early Fluent English, Holiday Season/Gift Giving Collection, African American English Collection Grades PreK-2, Realistic Fiction Collection Grades PreK-2, African American Collection English 6PK, English Guided Reading Level J
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