So, this weekend my family did some outreach service projects for our community. Our church does this series on giving every year for the Christmas season (Giv), and what they came up with for 2016 was acts of service, along with gift cards of lower monetary amounts for local business/ministries/people. The idea is that you're not only sacrificing financially (which anyone can do/commit to without much involvement) but also your time to help improve the community and support the people in it. We had different groups of people helping out the local Children's Hospital, orphanage, homeless community, DSS, and a center for at risk youth (where we volunteered) and a few other organizations around the city. Honestly, it's really hard to do acts of service, even at church, when you're a new parent. I know a lot of people who don't have any trouble serving their church or local community who have one kid (or multiple kids) but for me and my husband it's really been a struggle to find the time. That's why this weekend was so valuable and humbling for my heart and spirit. At first I volunteered to work at the center for at risk youth (Ezekiel Ministries) because my life group (bible study with ppl at my church) had all signed up for that specific service and time. But, I had wanted to volunteer with them when we did a previous Giv project where people committed to being a sort of big brother/sister, sponsor for the kids. I just wasn't in a position to do that because they wanted more males than females and the kids were mostly males . So I actually ended up being really excited about this opportunity after I had thought and prayed about it some more.
The purpose of this specific service was to create a garden for the kids in this program to plant/grow their own vegetables and eventually sell them for a profit. This will help them learn applicable skills and help keep them out of trouble in the process, which is a really cool idea. All of these projects were labeled as kid friendly, but when you're talking about manual labor you don't really think about kids being a part of those projects. So, needless to say that part was interesting when most of the families coming with their kids were toddler age and under. There were two groups – one group was to clear a plot of land full of uneven terrain, random debris, a creek and tons of weeds & wildlife (plants) and the other group could chose to go to the church and help with the already established gardens and rec center. We chose the church…
I’m so glad we ended up going the church (which lets Ezekiel Ministries use their building). We stayed outside with all the kids (about 8 toddlers) and helped de-weed the gardens for about 2 hours. There was a garden snake, a bullfrog (I found this guy and it scared me to death), an ant hill and tons of spiders (I think there was even a Black Widow found at some point) hiding in there, but I think we removed most of the weeds. The kids kind of all played together, jumped in the beds or followed us around. All in all, our time in the garden was fun, but took a lot longer while having to look after the littles the whole time (not so kid friendly). Another reason I was glad we ended up at the church was because it was also kind of cold that morning, so we could go back inside for breaks (and snacks & diaper changes - very important in the world of kids). The other half of the time, we ended up going inside and cleaning/organizing the rooms. That part was especially nice, because there was a nursery area for children, so most of them ended up in there playing with all the toys while the adults kept organizing the rooms.
It was such a joy to be a part of this ministry project. I loved that I got to serve with my church, and doing volunteer work with my friends and family is so humbling and rewarding. I also know, even if I never see it, that these kids will be greatly impacted and benefit from our few measly hours of service and hopefully learn some life-changing skills in the process. I think it's really important that our little (Silas) got to be a part of our service project. I want to show him the value of giving and serving others regularly, so it’s not a foreign concept to him and hopefully he’ll be better at it than I am.
Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
What service projects do you love to do (with or without your family)? Have any good recommendations for kids service projects? Leave a comment below