Making Service Count: Responding to Community Needs

Students reflect on the importance of community service by reading stories about Peace Corps Volunteer experiences.

Students then articulate needs within their own communities and participate in a gallery walk to generate ideas about how to address those needs through service.

Background information

Service and Service Learning:

Global Youth Service Day
The Corporation for National and Community Service

More about Bulgaria:

CIA - The World Factbook - Bulgaria

More about China:

CIA - The World Factbook - China

More about St. Lucia:

CIA - The World Factbook - Saint Lucia


  • Students will reflect on the importance of community involvement and service.
  • Students will articulate views on the needs of their own communities.
  • Students will generate ideas for service projects to address specific needs. 


  1. Begin by discussing students' experiences with community service.
    • Have you participated in a community service project before? If so, what was the purpose of the project? What was rewarding or challenging about it?
    • What does it mean to participate in community service?
  1. Read stories about service from Peace Corps Volunteers Jennifer Leshnower (St. Lucia) or Valerie Flynn (China), or from Peace Corps staff member Ivan Hristov (Bulgaria).
    If you or your students are unfamiliar with the Peace Corps, you can learn more at You may also want to share with your students some additional information about the countries featured in the stories (seeBackground Information, above).
  2. Discuss the importance of volunteering and community involvement to our daily lives. This can be done by researching important projects in your community that required volunteers or through brainstorming how volunteering can make a difference.
  3. Ask students to think about issues they would address in their community through service. The issues could be issues related to health and safety, education, environment, social issues, or other areas. Create a list of student ideas and have the class vote on the four issues they believe are most important to address.
  4. Place four large sheets of paper around the classroom with one of the chosen issues written on each one. Beneath each issue, write the question: What could we do? Introduce students to the idea of a gallery walk. For this activity, they will walk around the room and consider each of the four community issues they chose as most important to address. On the sheets of paper stating the issues, students will add their own ideas about how each one could be addressed through service. They can use markers to write directly on the paper, or write their ideas on sticky notes and attach them to the paper.
  5. When students have finished writing, allow time for them to read other people's ideas before discussing the activity as a class. Given the ideas generated by the students, what do they think would be the most appropriate ways to address the issues they chose? Discuss the steps they would need to take in order to carry out their ideas and the potential impact and importance of the projects they have suggested. 

Frameworks and standards

Enduring understandings

  • There are many ways to engage in community service.
  • Young people have the potential to make change within their communities.
  • Fundamental social goals may often be the same all over the world.

Essential questions

  • Why do people engage in community service?
  • What are other people doing to make a difference in their communities?
  • What could I do to make a difference?


Social Studies:
Thematic Strand III: People, Places, and Environments
Thematic Strand V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Thematic Strand IX: Global Connections 

Essential Element 2: Places and Regions

Language Arts:
Standard 1: Reading for Perspective
Standard 4: Communication Skills
Standard 5: Communication Strategies
Standard 8: Developing Research Skills
Standard 11: Participating in Society


  • Carry out one or more of the students' proposed service projects.
  • Connect with an existing service opportunity in your community.
  • Invite a returned Peace Corps Volunteer to speak to your class about their volunteer experience and projects through Speakers Match.  

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