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Here are 12 Ways to Give Back as a Family (We’ve Included a Free Printable for Inspiration!)

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girl leaving surprise money on a gas tank random act of kindness

Let’s throw around kindness like it’s confetti!

Looking for ways to give back or contribute positively to your community? Here are some fun and inspiring random acts of kindness ideas to complete as a family to focus attention on helping others and paying it forward, while also getting the kids involved.

The good news is that it can be something as simple as leaving a coupon next to the in-store item to surprise a fellow shopper, or as big as organizing a food drive. The options are endless when completing acts of kindness!

leaving a coupon next to a product in the store

We all know giving is so much more rewarding than receiving, so use these ideas as a helpful tool to start thinking about how your family can come together and do small projects of service to model selflessness and compassion.

I’ve made a free printable checklist sharing 12 ways to give back for inspiration, and then also a blank one if you’d like to brainstorm and come up with your own ideas. It’s worth noting that your ideas can be larger projects or simple acts of kindness that don’t have to cost a thing!

free printable for acts of kindness ideas

Print Checklist of Ideas Here

Print Blank Checklist Here

Hip Tip: You can go at your own pace as you see fit, or set a goal date to accomplish your list. This can be as casual and as budget friendly as you’d like!

Here’s 12 ideas below of ways to give back. Use them to spark a conversation about kindness and how we can help others during the holidays as well as throughout the year!

1.) Purge your home of unused household items and clothing.

clothes and household items to donate

This is something the whole family can easily participate in, and also a great way to make room and de-clutter. Have the kids go through their toy box for unused toys, and also clothes that no longer fit to donate. It’s amazing how much stuff can accumulate throughout the year that goes unused. Donate to your favorite charity, or host a garage sale and donate proceeds.

2.) Make and deliver a homemade meal for someone in need.

making a casserole for a sick friend

Something as simple as a comforting meal can make someone feel especially loved. This can be for a sick friend, someone who just had a baby, someone who just lost a loved one, or perhaps an elderly friend or neighbor. Even just the thought is often appreciated.

Hip Tip: Check out all of our delicious and easy dinner ideas for helpful recipes to consider.

3.) Make a difference for an animal.

boy hugging a pet dog

Sometimes those in need have four legs and a furry tail! You can help cats and dogs in many ways including through fostering, adopting, or even volunteering for a couple hours at an animal shelter. Maybe consider collecting blankets, food, and dog toys for your local shelter.

Hip Tip: We often post awesome pet-related deals you could consider purchasing and donating.

4.) Lead a book drive.

little girl reading a book

Make sure everyone has books to read! Encourage literacy by collecting new and gently used books from your home, friends, neighbors, and family and then donate to your local school, library, or women’s shelter.

5.) DIY “blessing bags” for those who are homeless. 

making blessing bags with toiletries

Consider collecting small personal care items and compiling “Blessing Bags” using freezer bags for those affected by homelessness. Your family can help compile them by including items like travel sized shampoo, a toothbrush, soap, granola bars, and clean socks. Check out our DIY “Blessing Bags” suggestions for more details!

6.) Host a neighborhood block party or play date!

girl playing outside with bubbles

Bring back the days when everyone on the street knew each other and looked out for one another! Sometimes simply including everyone and making a connection can be a way to give back. Start with your own street. Maybe invite the new neighbors you haven’t welcomed yet, or the child that may not get invited to all the parties.

7.) Visit a nursing home to connect with the elderly.

kids trick-or-treating with the elderly

During the holidays it’s fun to take the kids caroling or deliver cards, and means so much to someone in a nursing home and sure brightens their day. I’d contact your local facility to inquire about specific holidays or days they welcome visitors.

On a personal note, I used to take my kids when they were little in costume trick-or-treating with my moms group and it was always so fun and rewarding.

8.) Adopt a family in need. 

grocery cart full of food

Maybe there’s a family you know that is struggling, or a single parent who could use a little extra help for a month. Volunteer to babysit, do a chore, walk their dog, or even mow their lawn. If you’re budget allows, consider surprising a family or person in need with some basic groceries or a gift card to the grocery store.

9.) Plan ways of surprise giving! 

girl sticking money to a gas tank random act of kindness

Surprise random strangers unexpectedly! Grab $5, $10, or smaller denomination bills and leave them in a dressing room, vending machine, or gas tank to surprise someone and make their day! Maybe pay for the person behind you in the fast food or coffee drive-through line. It’s a fun idea to pay it forward!

Don’t have a budget for this? Surprise someone with a nice compliment, or a friendly smile – as those are FREE. 🙂

10.) Lift a soldier’s spirits, and say THANK YOU.

writing a soldier a thank you letter

A great way to have kids practice writing is through thank you letters! Write letters of gratitude or put together a simple care package to send to the troops. Check out websites like  or for information on how to donate.

11.) Run or walk for a cause. 

relay for life run in star wars costumes

Pictured above: Hip2Save sidekick, Jami and family, participating in a Relay for Life run! 

Get the family moving together to benefit a cause! Participate in a local run or walk that raises money for a cause that’s important to you and your family. Participants usually pay a registration fee and collect pledges, and in return enjoy a fun run or walk outdoors.

12.) Organize a food drive. 

canned goods on the table to donate

Food banks can use support throughout the year, and especially for the holidays. Pick a local homeless shelter or food bank and collect nonperishable food items, toiletries, diapers, ect. Get the kids involved by having them help collect, count, sort donations, make posters, and even deliver the donations to the local food pantry.

Give back this season with this reverse advent calendar idea!

Join The Discussion

Comments 23

  1. Heidy

    Love all this ideas thanks 😊

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks Heidy!

  2. desiree

    If you do bags for the homeless, please don’t forget feminine care items in the bags for the women! If they aren’t menstruating, they know someone who is and these items are often overlooked and extremely hard to come by!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Great advice – thanks for sharing Desiree!

  3. Lana

    We keep granola bars in our car and hand them out the window all year long to the homeless. I also want to hand a water too but have not figured out how to manage that quickly at a place where I cannot really stop the car.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That’s a great idea on the granola bars – thanks for sharing Lana!

    • Tammy S Soik

      When in Dallas this summer, I would freeze bottled water. I would place a frozen and a cold water in a bag and hand it to the homeless man on the corner as I went by. It was easier for him to accept if the traffic picked up.

  4. Teah

    In many neighborhoods around where I live people have installed “give a book/take a book houses”. I think they are such a neat Idea to help share the love of books. I even saw one out in a very rural area. That being said Someone put one outside of a church but called it a blessings box where you can take or leave things like food, water, toiletries…anything someone might need. It’s such a cool thing.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes, I love both of those ideas – thanks for sharing ❤️

  5. Elizabeth

    I foster dogs for the local humane society. Sometimes they are easy short term fosters other times longer and tougher. I love seeing the transformation in the harder ones.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for fostering Elizabeth! That’s so wonderful ❤️

    • Lisa

      Elizabeth, I was just going to note as well, if one is not in a position to adopt or take care of an animal, volunteer at a shelter and give them your time. I just moved to a new community and that is on my “to do” list. We have an adopted fur baby of our own, but want to also start donating time to other fur babies in need.

    • llc

      Please consider fostering a dog or cat. I am fostering 2 great danes pulled from a 2 bedroom home with 48 animals all in cages. They were starved. In just 6 weeks they have put on serious weight and are learning to be dogs again. They just started trying to play. It’s so rewarding to see them come from such horrific conditions and be such well mannered, loving dogs. I cant wait until the backbones disappear, their sores heal, and their fur grows back.

    • Lisa

      Thanks for fostering! It literally saves lives so that animals aren’t euthanized due to space. I used to foster cats until I became a foster failure and adopted my foster – just need to a larger apartment so I can foster again.

  6. Amy

    Love these ideas! Thanks for sharing.

    We host a free garage sale at our local church with our friends and family. We advertise that people can donate things they won’t use any longer (clothing, shoes, jackets, toys). Then we open it to the public completely free. Anyone is free to take anything they need. It’s a huge blessing to everyone in the community with no strings attached ☺.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh wow I love that! How helpful for everyone ❤️ thanks for sharing that idea Amy!

  7. Jessica

    Thanks for the list, love posts like this! I’m trying to tackle number one right now, I love donating.

  8. Rebecca

    There is also The Giving Tree, a program that your local Foster Care does each November to provide 3 gifts to each child- all under $25 and one of those gifts has to be an item of clothing. I can attest that the ONE shirt a child gets for Christmas is their prized item and gets worn daily at school. Call your local Foster Care center and love on a little one!

    If you have small children, call your local elderly care center and see if you can bring your kids to play in their community room. You bring the toys and the residents will come play with your kids, to invest and be part of their lives. You’ll help bring some sunshine through your kids!!

  9. amason2011

    You can also write letters to breast cancer patients here is the address Girls Love Mail, 193 Blue Ravine Rd., Suite 120, Folsom, CA 95630

  10. Renee

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy letter writing/sending postcards, so I will send some mail to the troops and thank you to amason2011 for the address to send letters to the breast cancer patients.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That will be so great! Thanks Renee!

  11. Sue P

    I *love* to pay it forward whenever I can – I’ll pay for the person behind me in line at Dollar General or a restaurant drive-through – only once have I had someone flat out refuse to receive it. (To her credit, she was an older lady and was probably raised with the mindset that charity or receiving a gift was a bad thing.) Most often, they look at me like I have 2 heads at first…then smile, shake their heads and say thank you. I just tell them the only thing I ask is that they do it for someone else when they are able – and that I’m doing it because I’ve been on the receiving end of help in the past when I needed it. One of the people I helped spotted me in another store later and made point of coming up to me and telling me that my good deed inspired him, and he’d done the same for 3 other people since then.

    If those 3 people helped 3 more, and the cycle kept repeating itself, just think what could happen! 🙂

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow yes! That is inspiring ❤️Thanks for sharing your thoughts Sue!

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