The Power of Community Service for Kids (+ Places to Volunteer with Kids)


Community service is something our kids are very familiar with and I’m proud that it has become such a large part of our lives. It not only provides that feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment but also helps develop a more well-rounded perspective on life. I feel community service allows you the opportunity to understand the complexities in life. It is in community service that you become aware and learn of the systemic issues that sometimes fail a certain group of individuals.

Why Community Service Is So Important To Us

We all need help at some point. We can’t turn our back or judge those who are in need because it could very easily be us one day. Even if you don’t feel like you would ever get to the point where you would have to ask for help, not many people are that lucky. The support system is not there for some. Community service serves to help those who need a helping hand.

I feel truly blessed to have a large family to rely on whenever I need a helping hand. I am very aware however that not many people have the support system I do or the financial means. We are not wealthy by any means, but we always have enough and that is not always the case for others. We need to be able to find the time and ways to be that support system for others when they need it most.

Ways to Serve Your Community

Community service can be done in several different ways. It does not always have to mean committing a large chunk of your day once a week. In our family, we find ways to volunteer that will incorporate our four children. Something as simple as taking cookies to the local fire and police department or providing snacks to the mailman are ways to serve your community.

Even if my kids are serving in the most minute way, I want them to feel like they are contributing, and I love community service opportunities where they can be directly involved.

Food Pantries

Youth Impact provides the perfect opportunity to allow kids to lead volunteer efforts. The non-profit organization is church-based and provides a monthly food pantry for their surrounding community. Children of any age can serve their community by unboxing food items, bagging grocery items, breaking down boxes, and delivering the food to families in their vehicles.

The Power of Community Service for Kids (+ Places to Volunteer with Kids)The monthly community service event runs about three hours, and raffle prizes are distributed to the children at the end of the day.

Through community service efforts like these, children can learn that they can accomplish great tasks at any age. They are never too small or too old to help. They learn that they can be contributing members of society.

During our time volunteering with Youth Impact, the children made friends and shared many laughs. What I also loved about this community service effort is that my younger children were paired up with older high school students who were also serving their community. Through this pairing, I feel they are gaining respect from their peers and learning that community service is, in fact, cool!

Animal Shelter

The City of El Paso Animal Services has a great community service program called Rescue Runners. I’ll admit we haven’t done it in a while, but it was so fun when we did. You get to connect with a dog who is up for adoption and go on a run with them. Children under the age of 18 have to be with their “sponsor/parent” at all times. There are also volunteer positions available for water points to provide water and treats!

Local animal shelters are always looking for donations as well. Last year we learned how to make animal toys with our old jeans. We delivered those toys to the local animal shelter, Pet Guardian, and my daughter was obsessed with making the toys for our dogs too. There are several animal shelters throughout El Paso, some smaller than others, that are always looking for monetary donations, food donations, or toys. Here are a few:

El Paso Animal Services

Animal Rescue League

Human Society of El Paso

Stick House Sanctuary (Stick House Sanctuary will take old Christmas tree donations and gladly accept knitted “nests” for birds.)


Laws and Paws

Pet Guardian Angel of El Paso 

The Rusty Pony Ranch and Companion Animal Rescue & Sanctuary


Whether it be clothes or toys, we’ve all cleared out our children’s outgrown items. Why not include them in the process and have it be a form of community service?

Have them clear out their closet of clothes they either don’t want anymore or don’t like. For our younger ones, this becomes a fun search and find. I usually tell them to find clothes with a certain number on the tag because they’re too big for those clothes. Hearing that they’ve grown is a sense of pride for any kid, so it becomes a mission for them to rid their rooms of their “baby” clothes.

Donating toys is a little harder for them to come around to. We try to make it easier for them by giving them options. We ask them to make a keep and donate pile. If their piles are not proportionate, we let them know how many toys they can keep from the keep pile. We haven’t had too many outbursts on the toy donations because, honestly, my kids outgrow toys FAST . . . and are always looking for the newer, cooler, toy!

There are several local non-profits around town that will gladly accept your gently used toys and clothes. I like to take my children with me so they can experience what their efforts are going towards.

Our favorite place to donate gently used toys is the Child Crisis Center. Also, whenever we have birthday parties and have leftover candy bags, snacks, or cupcakes, the center has always been more than willing to accept them. They have a drop-off bin outside of their facility. The bin makes it very convenient for you to donate at a time that’s convenient for you. The toys that they don’t keep for the children, they sell to help run their facility.

Here’s a list of other locations where you can donate your used clothes and toys:

Reynolds Home

La Posada Home

Center Against Sexual and Family Violence

Dame La Mano (915) 546-4040

Make sure to call first. Due to COVID restrictions, they may now have some prerequisites in place to accept used items.

What Volunteering Teaches My Children

My ultimate goal in life is to raise mindful, philanthropic, and humble children. Community Service is essential for me to reach that goal with our children. There’s no better way to teach your child humility than by having them see the world outside their bubble and in a different light.

Ingraining community service at such a young age helps them understand the needs of others in a more tangible way. I feel this will help them in whatever their future endeavors may be. Whether they be movie producers, politicians, doctors, mechanics, actors, or engineers, community service will help shape their character.

Originally published January 2022.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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Adriana Salas de Santiago
Adriana is a proud Mexican-American, born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Formerly, she worked as a Public Affairs Specialist at White Sands Missile Range for 10 years. During the pandemic, she had to venture into unknown territory as a stay-at-home mom for her four children, each one year apart. Adriana and her husband Adrian have been happily married for nine years. Last year they decided to open a woodworking business out of their home that has allowed them to meet several talented local small business owners. They love El Paso's sense of community, unique culture, and the hidden gems they still find during their outings around town. Adriana loves her family, writing, crafting, baking, hiking, volunteering, and sewing, in that order. Her greatest goal as a parent is to raise fulfilled, mindful, and compassionate children. Follow her on Instagram here.


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