A Program of

Make Room for the Hungry

Possible recipients

Local food shelves or charities that work to alleviate or end hunger.

What you’ll need

  • A bowl or extra place setting (including bowl) at the table
  • Coins


  • Place an empty bowl or an entire place setting at your table to remind you of those who go without nutritious food each day.
  • Every day, count something in your home, such as number of stuffed animals, number of coats in your closet, or number of socks in your drawers.
  • Put a coin in the bowl for each item counted.
  • At the end of 30 days, donate the coins you collected to a hunger relief organization or your local food shelf.
  • For more details on this project, including a “calendar” of items to count each day, see the book Doing Good Together: 101 Easy, Meaningful Service Projects for Families, Schools and Communities by Jenny Friedman and Jolene Roehlkepartain (Free Spirit Publishing, 2010).


  • Why is it hard to picture what it’s like to be hungry when you always have plenty to eat?
  • Why do you think some people don’t have enough nutritious food?
  • Why is it important to help people who don’t have enough nutritious food?
  • When we donate our money, how do you think the organization uses it to help people who are hungry?
  • What else can we do to help people who are hungry?


  • “The Small Ball of Rice” in Buddha at Bedtime by Dharmachari Nagaraja (Duncan Baird, 2008). Ages 4 and up. This fable tells about the generosity of a man who has little and how it transformed a wealthy miser.
  • If the World Were a Village: A Book about the World’s People by David J. Smith (Kids Can Press, 2nd edition, 2011). Ages 8 and up. This book helps explain who we are and the uneven distribution of resources by imagining the world as a village of 100 people.

Take it further

  • Keep hunger a concern year-round by “adopting” your local food pantry.
  • After your 30 days of collecting coins, go as a family to deliver your donation to the hunger organization you’re supporting. Describe your effort and see if they’d like to promote it to other families as a fundraising idea.

*Cost can vary greatly on some projects depending on the way you approach them. Consider asking friends and neighbors to “sponsor” your effort if you get excited about a project that may be out of your price range. You might end up with a big-hearted community at your side!

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  • August 9, 2012 - 12:17 pm | Permalink

    My children are still talking about this project, and we did it last November. They can’t wait to do it again. The act of tangibly counting treasures in our own home made us more thankful. The act of setting an empty bowl at the table reminded us that others are not as fortunate, which made us more humble. And the act of transforming our coins into a donation for the food shelf helped us feel responsible… This is definitely a project that will be part of our fall holiday traditions.

  • November 8, 2013 - 6:30 am | Permalink

    We are starting this one this weekend! Love it!

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