Service Learning Project

3, 4, 5

Using the plays from the previous lesson as a jumpstart, the students carry out a plan to share time and talent in the community.  They help at a local food pantry or donation center.  After the visit, the students reflect on the impact of their contribution to the community and themselves. 

Note: Prior to this lesson, make arrangements with a local food pantry, donation center, or Red Cross, or contact your local Volunteer Center @ 1-800-volunteer, to arange for the students to visit a a site as volunteers.  Make sure the students can actually help with some of the work.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period, Plus a Three-Hour Field Trip and Reflection Time

The learner will:

  • recall philanthropic acts from the plays of the previous lesson.
  • participate in a service-learning project for the whole class, such as helping in a food pantry or donation center.
  • pictures, brochures, and information about the nonprofit site you are visiting.
  • assist adult volunteers in packing and distributing food (or other donated items) at a local food pantry or donation center.
  • reflect on the experience in writing.

Note: Prior to Day One of this lesson, request that students bring in a canned good to donate to the local food pantry. (What you ask students to donate depends on the site you visit in this lesson. It may be food, used toys, clothes or other items.) Also, make sure you have proper permission and chaperones for the field trip on Day Two.)

  • drivers and chaperones
  • permission slips
  • writing materials
  • donated items brought in by students
Home Connection 

The writing assignment may be completed as homework.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Show the students the grocery bags full of collected items (see note in Materials)and ask them how these items can reach the people who need them. Lead the students to identify a nonprofit organization that matches donors with recipients of food, clothing, and household items.

  2. Remind the students of the plays they created in the previous lesson. In their plays, they explored the idea of helping others in the community. Ask them to recall some of the philanthropic acts they demonstrated and how they felt about those acts. Tell them that tomorrow (or on the scheduled date) they will have an opportunity to actively donate time and talent for the common good of the community.

  3. Explain the history and goals of the organization you are visiting. If possible, show pictures and brochures. Talk about how the nonprofit organization gets the money and materials to run the operation.

  4. Guide the students in some sensitivity training about the experience. Help them understand what brings people to the site to get donated items. Through role-playing, teach them how to behave and be respectful of people and materials during the experience.

  5. Discuss how the nonprofit organization benefits the common good.

  6. Tell the students what to wear on the following day in order to make a good impression and show respect for their task, but to be functional for the type of work they will be doing.

  7. Day Two:

  8. Parents drive or walk with students to the site. Students follow instructions from an adult volunteer.

  9. Students will organize, pack and/or distribute donated items.

  10. An adult volunteer may be willing to talk to the students about why he or she works there and what he or she likes about the nonprofit organization.

  11. When the class returns to school, discuss the experience. Listen to students' reactions to the experience of helping, making a difference, what else they could do, etc. Respond to their statements in a way that encourages further thought and discussion.

  12. Tell the students towrite about the experience. The writing should describe the events in factual detail, but also the students' feelings and reactions. Remind them to write about the benefits of philanthropy to themselves and the recipients. These expectations (along with writing mechanic expectations) can be listed on a rubric and sent home for homework.


Assess student participation and attitude during the field trip. Assess whether students' writing fulfills your expectations for content and mechanics.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will assist at a food pantry or donation center. They may organize, pack, or distribute items as needed at the nonprofit site.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark E.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark E.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Demonstrate the skills needed for the successful performance of the volunteer job.
      3. Benchmark E.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify outcomes from the service.