Instead of waiting for ideas to come to you, reach out to others who serve. 

By Thomas J. Jankowski, board member, Garden City Kiwanis Club, Michigan, U.S.

Have you looked in your own backyard for hands-on service projects? It’s probably the most overlooked opportunity for clubs!

Our Garden City Kiwanis Club in Michigan, U.S., has partnered with other service clubs, but we were lacking opportunities with other nonprofit charities. That is, until I had a discussion with Dan Layman, community liaison manager for The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan — one of the nonprofit vendors at the Kiwanis Michigan District’s Great Lake Conference.

As we talked, I asked if our club members could help with any hands-on projects. In fact, Layman said, we could. The foundation was about to arrange its annual holiday party for the children it serves. (The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan addresses the needs of patients and families in Michigan who are affected by blood cancer.) Could our club members inventory and package toys that were donated for the party?

Of course, our members said yes, and a number of us participated. While there, we were asked if we could volunteer at the party itself, so we supervised art and craft projects with children. It was all a very rewarding adventure. Later we were told that the organization could use our help with other events as well.

The Blood Cancer Foundation of Michigan is not located in Garden City, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is making a better life for the children it serves. So don’t limit yourself to helping only in your community — and don’t wait for a service project to come to you. Reach out. Chat with representatives of other organizations that help children and families. Talk with vendors at Kiwanis events and others. Your next service project could be one conversation away.