We recently asked our Facebook friends to share community service ideas that promote kindness and the spirit of giving. We had the opportunity to give away 10 copies of the best-selling book Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and so we are sharing them with the community members who posted our favorite ideas. Here’s a summary of those ideas:

We hold a free Winter Wonderland craft night and we ask for donations of hats, gloves, and scarves. The children hang them on a tree as they walk in to the event and these are donated to local families. One of the craft stations is a cardmaking area and the cards are delivered to a local nursing home. —Patty McPhie  

Our school does a book exchange before our school breaks (winter, spring, and summer). The children bring in books they no longer read and they take another book in exchange. We make sure children who aren’t able to donate a book still get one to bring home. —Melissa Derhake Buttry

We ask parents to donate gently used clothes for our clothes closet. Our guidance counselor sends out letters with permission slips to get information on the type of clothing and sizes needed. She then tells the PTO know what’s needed and we fill bags with clothes for her to distribute. —Denise Bailey Pickett

We recently held a fundraiser to help one of our students with medical bills. Our PTO purchased a flat-screen TV for a raffle and our cafeteria ladies put together a spaghetti night. The PTO helped sell spaghetti plates. We raised close to $2000! —Rebekka Beattie 

Our school has a lot of low-income families—that being said, they are the most giving and caring! We participate in a sock, hat, and mitten drive, as well as the Coats for Kids and Toys for Tots programs. Our community garden provides students and neighbors through the warmer months with fresh produce. Also, we have some classes that draw names for a “Secret Friend” each week and the students will go above and beyond to be nice to that student each day. —Michelle Sutton 

We  asked school families to donate gently used coats, gloves, mittens, boots, and hats to school. We arrange for students in need to select items and then we donate the remainder to a homeless shelter. We had some of the students deliver the unwanted item to the shelter. It was a great experience. —Joni Waterburys-Salazar. 

We hold an annual Holiday Bazaar. We ask our families to donate gently used items. Volunteers sort through donations and put them on display during a two-day event at school. The students “go shopping” by selecting free items for their family members or friends. Volunteers wrap gifts for the students. We usually have so many donations that each of our 500-plus students are permitted three gifts each. It is such a heartwarming experience to watch these young children shop! —Jennifer Griffin Boivin
Our school just finished one of our several “giving back” events. Children were asked to work at home to earn money. For each dollar earned and donated, they receive a paper hand with their name on it. We posted the hands to the wall, creating a giant loop of “giving hands”! We then purchased $50 gift cards from the donations and give those to local charities. —Tracy Rich Sisti 

Our middle school raises money and collects toys for needy families in our city during the holiday season. To raise money, kids sell hot chocolate, snacks, drinks, and candy canes at school. They even donate unneeded items and hold an auction among their classmates. Also, students  do a gift-wrapping night for the community. —Kim Nevers 

Our 2nd and 3rd graders have a readathon and get pledges from family members and close friends. The students use the money to buy food for our church’s food pantry. Students and teachers go to the local retailers to purchase the food and deliver it to the food pantry. —Wendy Hallquist-Horen