We've discussed communities of various sizes in different countries. Ivy has had an email exchange with her grandparents who are doing relief-type work in the Domincan Republic. They discuss food, housing, schooling and lifestyle.
At the local level, Ivy spent a morning at the SPCA with friends to learn about what they do for animals. She has been to the food bank and is eager to find a way to contribute to it. Together with her Brownies group she did a walking tour in Summerland and they paid particular attention to public art.
Before Christmas we spent some time talking about what we are thankful for and where we might want to help people out. We took a more global perspective and the girls chose to put together a shoebox for a girl aged 7-9. Our extended families put money together at Christmas to send to a helping organization instead of buying each other too many gifts. This year the Paper Kite Foundation was the choice as it was founded by several of my brother's friends. We read through the website to see what the money was going to go towards.
Neighbours are a major component of our community so we are making a little more effort into these relationships. We called an elderly former neighbour and met her for coffee. Our neighbours are very generous and help us out by clearing our driveway of snow and giving us food from the orchard. We try to give back in small ways but I think we need to pick up the pace in that department!
Issues in Communities/Homelessness
Through the contact with the food bank and a having a grandma that works at a homeless shelter, we had the resources to talk through many scenarios where people might have to use these services. The girls did some role playing and came up with some of the challenges they'd face. Some of their solutions were very creative! Being homeless they'd need to find shelter (electricity - extension from outdoor plug next door, blankets, cope with seasons, bathing), food (scavenge, rely on handouts, shelters, food banks, finding odd jobs, how to cook?), clothing (re-purposing or reclaiming what others have rejected, making do with less, toiletries).
Two books that helped us understand more about it were The Boxcar Children and Family Under the Bridge.