Our girls know that we give to organizations like World Vision, International Justice Mission, and missionaries to help people around the world. They also know about the local organizations to which we donate, and we always try to explain to them why we are donating and helping, according to their age level. Now as they get a little bit older, we are trying to engage them in outreach in a tangible way that they can see. It’s way too easy in our culture to live a very safe and sheltered life in a little church and homeschool bubble if you are not actively trying to get out there and be like Jesus.
Twice now the girls have joined me when our church staff packed lunches for the Union Gospel Mission and each time their “job” was to help stuff the bags with the items the adults had prepped. Every day of the year the UGM needs people to donate 80-100 lunches for the people who didn’t make it to the center during a meal time or don’t come into the building. After we make all the lunches, one of the staff members delivers them to the mission. I have also driven my girls down there so they can see the part of town where it is and the people who live on the street, or who are walking around with all their possessions in a backpack or shopping cart. Our girls are old enough to see this now and know that we should be helping and serving those less fortunate because God has given us so much.
I know a lot of people want to do service projects with their children, but either don’t have any idea where to start or haven’t set aside the time in their family schedule. I have been working on a list of other projects that could be done in our area and thought I would share it here.
- Volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter serving food.
- Raise money to buy diapers, wipes, and formula for a local crisis pregnancy center.
- Have a lemonade stand to raise money for the organization of your choice.
- Have a garage sale to raise money for the organization of your choice. (For both of these, make big signs to let people know what/why you are doing. They tend to buy/give more.)
- Volunteer at a church food or clothing pantry.
- Do a book drive for a local children’s home or women/children’s shelter.
- Volunteer at a local nursing home or assisted living community. They love to see children and, in our experience, most elderly people don’t get a lot of visitors (even family).
- Do a school supply drive for needy children.
- Offer to help with yard work for an elderly neighbor.
- Find out the volunteer needs of a children’s hospital.
- Larger cities tend to have a large refugee population. Look for organizations like World Relief and see how you can reach out to those who are new to the country.
- Pay attention to the needs you see mentioned on social media. Did you see someone who has a child in the hospital or in a car accident? Take them a meal. This is one area that I am trying to be more active in – I want to see a need and then do something.
There are opportunities all around us that we could take part in – if we just take the time to do it. So often I would rather stay home or be with my family, but God hasn’t called us to a life of hiding in our home, but to a life of service and showing His love and mercy.