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Service Projects Teens can Complete at Home

Emily Burnett
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Bethany Bradley

Bethany Bradley with sack lunches she made for Kids’ Meals.

Summer is a great time for teenagers to engage in community service. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, things are a little different this year. Though some non-profit organizations, like the Houston Food Bank, are open and in need of hands-on volunteers, many are not. Additionally, more people are looking for volunteer opportunities to do from home.

Bethany Bradley, a rising senior at St. Agnes Academy, has been working on lots of different at-home projects, including unfolding newspapers for Citizens for Animal Protection and making sack lunches for Kids’ Meals. She says her favorite service project is making bracelets out of rope for Interfaith Ministries because “at first it was really hard to do but then I got into a rhythm and it was very fun!”

Here are some service project ideas that can be completed at home: 

Citizens for Animal Protection, or CAP, is a non-profit that focuses on pets in need. They have many programs and services for pets in need, such as Shelter & Care, Pet Adoption, Lost & Found Pets, and more. There are many different at-home projects teens can do for CAP.

One is making homemade dog toys. To make one, you need a piece of 18 x 24 in fleece. Cut it into six strips that are each 3 x 24 inches. Tie all the strips together, and braid them, using two strips per section. Once you have braided the strips almost all the way, tie them together again at the end.

Twirler cat toys can also be made for CAP. Using old cotton T-shirts or fleece material, cut the fabric into rectangular strips that are 5 inches long. Take two strips and lay one over the other in a cross pattern. Taking the ends of the piece on the bottom, tie it in a knot in the middle, over the other piece of fabric. Then knot the other one the same way. It should end up as a knot in the middle with four ends of fabric sticking out.

Another easy project for CAP is collecting and unfolding newspapers. CAP uses these in the kennels after cleaning them. All you have to do is separate them into three piles - full sheets, half sheets, and shiny advertising sheets. Then remove the shiny advertising sheets, as CAP cannot use them, and make two piles of unfolded newspapers - full and half sheets.

Once these projects are completed, you can drop them off at CAP at 17555 Katy Freeway.

See more at-home projects for CAP here

SEARCH Homeless Services is a non-profit organization that helps homeless individuals and families move into homes and stabilize their lives. They have many remote opportunities to get involved.

One way to help SEARCH is by preparing snack packs. You can do this easily. Each snack pack consists of a ziploc bag and three or more items from the list on their website, including applesauce cups, granola bars, sunflower seeds, and more. The list can be found here. Their clients also prefer that each bag contains both chewy and no-chew items to accommodate everyone, no matter their dental health.

Another at-home project for SEARCH is making keychains. SEARCH’s clients need keychains to keep the keys to their new homes. Examples of simple ones can be found here and here, but volunteers can make more elaborate ones if they want. 

All of SEARCH’s remote volunteer opportunities can be found here.

Kids’ Meals is a non-profit that works to end childhood hunger in Houston by delivering free and healthy meals to pre-school aged children. As of May 2020, Kids’ Meals is delivering over 7,000 meals every weekday. There are two different ways to help from home - decorating lunch bags and assembling lunch packs. 

Decorating lunch bags is an easy at-home project for all ages. All you have to do is buy standard lunch bags, decorate them using markers, stickers, and more (but no glitter!), and deliver them to Kids’ Meals at 330 Garden Oaks Blvd. Monday through Friday from 9-3 p.m.

Another easy project for Kids’ Meals is assembling lunch packs. Each lunch pack needs 3 shelf-stable items - one drink, one snack, and one protein. Options for each of these can be found here

And, lastly, if you want something quick and easy, United Way Houston has a virtual volunteer opportunity to send notes of encouragement to essential workers and homebound seniors impacted by COVID-19.

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