This post was written by Vanessa Johnson on behalf of the Case Foundation:

Spending time at the Case Foundation every week for about six months has been an amazing opportunity to see what it is like to really give back. As head of the Community Service Club at my school I am always looking for convenient and helpful ways to get my school involved in giving back to the community. Here are five of the best fundraising and community service projects that I, and others, have come up with that are more than easy to do at any school.

1. Food drive – One of the easiest and more direct ways to give back to the community is through a food drive. Collecting food to give back to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and any other organizations that need simple but necessary food is one of the most helpful ways to give back. You might try making it a competition within your school. Whether you make it a competition by grades, faculty vs. students, or if your school has teams, it makes people really want to get involved and brings out their competitive spirit. Another way to get everyone involved is by offering a quota for food raised and a prize if they reach that quota. For example, the Community Service Club and the heads of my school collaborated to set a quota of 10,000 points. Each canned food item counted as 2 points, and each dollar donated counted as 1 point. If we reached 10,000 points by a certain time limit, we got a day off of school. Although giving back is a prize in itself, having a little incentive never hurt.

2. Blood drive – Although being scared of needles may be one of the biggest fears, blood is a vital necessity and giving blood takes no longer than a couple of minutes. It doesn’t take a lot of work to get in touch with a local clinic or Red Cross program in your area and partner up for them to come to your school to collect blood. This doesn’t take a whole lot of physical work and the payoff is amazing. To locate a blood drive or set one up you can go to these websites for more information.

3. Adopt a highway – Adopting a highway is a great way to give back to the entire community both in and out of your school. While, adopting a highway or a major road is a long commitment it is definitely worth it. As the adopter, it is your responsibility to go out to the site about once a month or so and mike up trash, paint new lines or cut down over brush. Keeping the road clean and safe benefits anyone who drives on it. And, usually that highway or road gets named after your school or at least a sign goes up saying, “Adopted by….”, so that everyone can see what your school is doing to help. Cleaning up litter on the highway is also a great way to help the environment and wildlife in your area. Here’s how: Adopt-A-Highway.

4. Charity walks and runs – Walking for something can be a tough challenge because it can be fairly difficult to convince people to take time out of their weekends to go on a however-many-mile long walk. However, if you campaign for it early, make t-shirts, or do things to get your community excited, it is very possible to get a large turnout. Doing walks can also be a great way for your community to come closer to together and to get to know people both in and out of your school. There are walks for breast cancer, brain cancer, leukemia and hundreds more. As the weather is getting nicer, it’s the perfect time to start planning a charitable walk through your town or city. Here are some links to help you find and set up a walk:

  • Sign Up to Walk Now – March for Babies
  • Short Distance Charity Run/Walk Events
  • 5 Ways to Walk for Charity
  • Race for Hope

5. Service project for the Military – One of the most touching and helpful fundraisers you can do is for the military. It can be as simple as writing “thank you” cards to send overseas or collecting necessities from toiletries, to games or magazines, to food. Depending on what organization you team up with will determine what type of donations you should send. Giving back to the military is an idea that reaches home for a lot of people and is something that is incredibly useful right now. Here are some organizations that you could team up with:

Guest blogger Vanessa Johnson is a student at Madeira High School in McLean, VA and an intern with the Case Foundation.