As advisers it is our main job to hold our National Honor Society (NHS) chapter members to the four pillars: leadership, scholarship, character, and service. This time of year, you may be looking for easy service projects to address that last pillar. I can help! I have been an NHS adviser for over 15 years and have done several service projects that aren’t heavy lifts. Below, I’m sharing five ideas you can look into right now. But also don’t forget to check out the many service projects on the National Student Project Database that you can reach through the NHS and National Journal Honor Society (NJHS) websites.

1. Organize a blood drive. Blood drives are extremely helpful and especially needed right now due to a national blood shortage. Reach out to a nonprofit organization that provides blood services and that can assist you with advertising, appointments, and paperwork (we’ve used Vitalant with great success). Although your chapter members earn scholarship funds for participating in the blood drive, I suggest also finding ways to incentivize donations from other students in your school. We found that offering donated coupons for free or discounted items from restaurants such as Chick-fil-A or gift cards from Amazon for donating blood really increased our number of donations.

2. Collect for a local charity. Collections for local charities are great because then you are truly giving back to your community. We have collected for our local food bank, a domestic violence shelter, the Salvation Army, City Mission, and the Humane Society. Do a Google search to find potential local charities and organizations. I suggest reaching out to them prior to collection to see what their needs are so you can best help.

3. Assist at a local elementary school. Team up with a local elementary school on a service project. Reach out to the school’s principal to see what is needed—for instance, the school may need tutors for their students. Also reach out to the Parent Teacher Association sponsor to see if they need volunteers for any of their family events. In the past, we would help at fall festivals or family fun nights—events that always need volunteers to run game or craft booths.

4. Create an informal student mentor program. The transition to high school can be tough for incoming freshmen. Help make the adjustment easier by pairing them with senior members. When we’ve done this at my school, the seniors meet with the rising freshmen at the end of their eighth grade year so there is a familiar face in the fall when they arrive for ninth grade. Not only can students exchange contact information, but the seniors can answer common questions and encourage freshmen to sign up for activities and clubs ahead of the first day, so the younger group feels more comfortable that first week. We found that if boys mentor boys and girls mentor girls, the students speak more openly with one another. We also have encouraged several check-ins throughout the school year.

5. Lead Teacher Appreciation Week activities. This idea speaks to the leadership pillar as well as the service pillar. In previous years, chapter members would brainstorm ideas, and we would also ask teachers what they’d like to have happen during that week. Most recently, we had members sign up to do something nice for a teacher (for example, make them a gift basket, buy them a gift card, or simply send them an email to show their appreciation). I made sure every teacher had a student assigned to them, and our students stepped up to show their true teacher appreciation.

These are just a few service ideas that I have used over the years. I hope they inspire you, whether this is your first or tenth year as your school’s NHS or NJHS adviser.

About the Author

Melanie Rush has been an NHS adviser for more than 15 years. A former teacher at Trinity High School in Washington, PA, she recently became the assistant principal of Plum Senior High School in Pittsburgh, PA.

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