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Service Project #15 – Thank You to our Mail Carrier

About a week ago the boys actually asked me, when are we going to do another service project?  I just can’t describe how that made me feel.  Five and six year olds ask to do things that are 1) FUN and 2) IMPORTANT TO THEM.   For them to ask this question tells me that they see service as both fun and important to them.  So Cole started to brainstorm ideas for things we could do that night.  His first one was to go to someone’s house and clean it up for them.  I LOVED that idea – how about we start with our own?  Just kidding.

I explained that we’d have to arrange that with someone because we couldn’t just arrive at our neighbor’s house with a mop and broom.  Or could we??? Tina?? Ha!

Tyler then asked if we could write a thank you note for our trash man.  How sweet!  I would have loved to do that, but since I am at work when the trash men come, and they have those metal arm things that lift up the can…I wasn’t sure how to get the note to them.

I was beginning to sound like I didn’t want to do a service project.  But then Tyler said, let’s make a thank you card for the mailman!  AH-HAH!

So Tyler and Cole got to work on their cards.  Here is a photo of Tyler’s finished card.  

Our mail”man” is actually a woman, so we thanked our mail carrier.  Cole was not pleased with the card that he did, so he asked what else he could do to help.  I told him that we could get a gift card too, and he could pick where we get it from.  But Cole decided to do better than that he said, HOW ABOUT IF I PAY FOR IT WITH MY MONEY?  How sweet is that?  My selfless sweet little boy.  Of course, I did not let him pay for it, but told him how amazing it was that he wanted to do that.  We picked McDonald’s since the mail carrier is always on the go.  This week I put Tyler’s card (also signed by Cole), the gift card, and a note from us and left them in our mailbox so the mail carrier would get them.  This 52 weeks of service experiment is coming along quite nicely.

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Service Project #14 – Goodwill Donation

Well, we missed about two months.  To say a lot has changed is putting it mildly.  Two months ago, we lost our fourth baby at 38 weeks.  Chase is a beautiful angel and rest in the arms of Jesus.  For that, we are so happy.  But we miss him, and we’ve spent the past couple of months making sense of everything and finding our new “normal”.  The kids stopped asking about service projects, and I stopped feeling the motivation to serve.  But several weeks ago I heard about the death of a young man who went to meet Jesus at the age of 21.  And suddenly I wanted to serve everyone.  I wanted to calm the fears of anyone who was scared, feed anyone who was hungry, love on anyone who felt alone…I once again felt the call of Jesus.  And it suddenly became even more important to me that I instill certain values in my children.  No matter how many medals they win, how many A’s they make on tests, or how many trophies line their walls, if they seek first the Kingdom of God, I have done my job.  And to me, a large part of His kingdom is serving others.

So we started with something small – a donation to Goodwill of yet more stuff that we did not need.  We have far too much stuff (don’t we all).  And if we’re not using it, we should give it to someone who can.  Here are the boys dropping off the “stuff”.

The boys were really excited when I told them we were going to do a service project – until I told them I had to take a photo of it.  But they got back into the groove, and I explained what “goodwill” was.  It was a nice welcome back into our mission, and it is my prayer that these projects instill in my children a love for serving others as if serving the Lord himself.

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Service Project #11 – Society of Samaritans clothing drive

I admit, having three kids, working full time, and entering the last couple of months of pregnancy has made me one tired momma.  But our church has made it a priority to start giving back more to our community, and I am going to take advantage of those opportunities!   In January, the church held a clothing drive for a local group called Society of Samaritans.  What a GREAT opportunity to clean out the closets.  So the boys went through their old clothes, and so did my husband and I.  The boys were excited to give the clothes to the people who needed them.  Here they are picking out clothes to donate…

And here they are dropping them off at the church collection spot…

 This was actually last week’s project.  Time constraints have made me slow to post it,  but when Cole asked me yesterday, “Mom, what is our next service project?  We’ve done so many, what’s left to do?”  I knew I needed to keep this going.  It was an amazing feeling for him to be so interested in the projects and what we’d do next.  It was also a great opportunity to tell him that there was so much more good we could do in this world…

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Service Project #10 – Good Soles Donation

A rough start to the new year, and we missed a week!!  I was so sad when I realized we hadn’t done a service project last week.  But we’re off and running again with another project. This week, we collected shoes and socks for the Montgomery County Good Soles Donation Center. They accept donations of gently used and new socks and shoes for infants, children, adults, and seniors. I bought some new socks, then the boys had a blast going through the shoes we collected for donation. As always, I asked them if they understood why we were giving away our shoes. Tyler promptly answered, because there are people who don’t have any shoes, and they need something on their feet. Voila – mission accomplished!

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Service Project #9 – Joyful Life Church clean up

Our church is small, growing, and new. Okay…so not exactly new. But we are small, mighty and very loving! We’re also a very generous church, and most everyone is ready to jump in and help when needed. So when we moved into our new building, and the pastor called for families to sign up to clean up the facility after church once a month for one quarter a year…I jumped on it. I thought, what a better service project than cleaning God’s house!  As a small but growing church, we try to save money where we can…so we can spend more on benevolence and other church activities.

I was not sure how well the kids would take to cleaning up after church, but to my surprise they were actually EXCITED about it. I am not kidding. They were very excited to be vacuuming, and the boys were so proud of the work they’d done. Perhaps it’s because they are still little and think that vacuuming or mopping is fun. No matter what, it went so well, and I am so proud of them. Not only did they do service, but they saw what we could accomplish as a team. And they didn’t just help out “for fun”…they really vacuumed, mopped and swept. I told them they were helping clean God’s house, and they really liked that. Madi even got into the act and carried the trash can back into the nursery.

When we were pulling away from the church, they also thought it was fun to be the last ones there. Tyler asked me if we could do another service project later that day. It almost made me cry that he found this so enjoyable. That was my goal…to set them on a path of service as “fun” and a part of why we’re all here. My new 2011 “thing” (because I don’t make resolutions) is to do everything as if serving the Lord…I told myself that many times as I did the 8 loads of holiday laundry later that afternoon! Blessings to all this new year, and I cannot wait to see what other projects lie ahead!

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Service Project #8 – The Glove Tree

In the spirit of Christmas, our eighth service project was to make a glove tree. We took a trip to Target during the week of Christmas to pick up some last minute gifts. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but let me assure you that the kids had fun picking out different pairs of gloves. The idea was to let each of the kids pick out a few pairs of gloves then hang them on the “glove tree” to donate to Interfaith of The Woodlands.

When we got home, I found an old decorative tree I’d picked up for $1 at Wal-Mart and let the kids hang the gloves on. I think they understood why we were doing it. Amidst all of their own excitement about Christmas presents, food, and family, it was tough to convey our purpose behind the glove tree. But they definitely understood that we’d be giving it to people whose hands were cold because they could not afford any gloves. I ran out of time during the week of Christmas for us to deliver the tree, so I plan to do it this Friday when I am off work again. I’ll try to get a photo of the delivery when we make it. Blessings, and see you next week!

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Service Project #7 – Red River Quilters

When I first started this endeavor, I searched online for ideas and ways to give back. I came across this amazing group called the Red River Quilters. It’s a non-profit group, and their purpose is to preserve the art of quilting. Based in Shreveport/Bossier City, the Guild draws its membership from the extended Ark-La-Tex region and typically has approximately 300 members at each years end. They meet every Monday at a Presbyterian Church in Shreveport. They quilt for fun and also do a lot of charity quilting. Some of the programs include quilting black and white quilts for visually impaired children (my heart melts!) and quilts for babies and children in need called Love Wrappers.

I sent them an email to ask if they ever needed fabric donations, and they said yes! So off to the store we went to buy some scraps of fabric from Hobby Lobby. I explained to the boys that we were going to send it to some people who would make blankets to keep babies warm. Both were pretty cute about it, and wanted to pick out “Cars” or “Disney” material. We opted for the solid colors. 🙂

This was a pretty easy project given all that’s going on with the holidays, but it was still fun! I had to include this photo too…yes, that’s Tyler turning the scrap material into a gun…

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Service Project #6 – Hospitality House

When I was approached with a ministry opportunity by one of the teachers at my children’s pre-school, I was so excited! I admit that it was nice not to have to seek the volunteer opportunity. It came to me! Laura, their teacher, and I decided to dedicate several hours one Saturday decorating a room for a ministry in Huntsville, Texas called Hospitality House. The House is a facility for families/visitors of persons in the Hunstville state prison. They offer a safe shelter, bed, and use of the kitchen to prepare meals.

Just imagine the emotional rollercoaster some of these women and children are on as they visit their loved ones in prison. What a great opportunity to minister, and thanks to those at Hospitality House this ministry has seen many people comforted by Jesus’s love!

We took the hour+ trip by minivan last weekend with packed lunches, a hammer, and some decorations for the room (thank goodness they had the nails since I completely forgot about them!). Laura brought her children as well, which made it fun for my kids too. They helped us make beds where needed, and gave me some very thoughtful advice on where to place the room decorations we bought. This was followed by a tour of the facility with a very child friendly explanation of the ministry. I prayed immediately that none of my children had to make use of it (or their own children or spouses – or worse – ME), but thanked God for such a place to minister to those who must.

We like the special touches we added to the room that will make it more comfortable for those staying at the House. Our plan is to put our handprints into the shape of a heart, frame it, and hang it in the room. Each room has a “theme” from the “decorators”, but we’re still working on ours.

The house can always use help and has needs. If interested, please visit their site to see how you can help too! This final photo is of the kids and grandma enjoying lunch on the front porch of the House. While we were there, a couple and young child approached and asked the House to inquire about a place to sleep (they were homeless). It was all I could do not to cry, and it was certainly a teaching moment for me to tell our children just how very blessed we are.

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Service Project #4 – Cookies for the Firemen

Cookies…firetrucks…yes, this was their favorite service project to date! Tyler asked all week last week when we were going to take the cookies to the firemen! I read a lot of posts online about delivering home baked goods to firehouses, and many moms said that their local fire station could not accept them. So I called our fire department in The Woodlands, and the response was hilarious, “Oh, yes, ma’am, they’d love cookies from home! Our firemen will eat anything!” It was so cute.

I do have to admit this project was also a little self-serving…see, my oldest had the wonderful opportunity of fundraising for his school by selling cookie dough. And his great-grandmother saw to it that he got all the prizes offered when she bought one of every kind! My freezer was stocked full, so I was all to happy to share some with the firemen.

The boys, and even Madi helped me stack the “homemade” cookies on the cookie sheet for baking. They also made up some cards to tell the firemen thank you for their hard work. When we delivered the cookies to Fire Station 5, the guys geniunely loved the cards, were so kind, and so grateful. My hats off to the firemen at the Branch Crossing station house!

The kids got a tour, which I didn’t expect, and only Cole was brave enough to get in the truck. There had been a fire the night before, and Cole exclaimed, “It smells like hot dogs in here!” Everyone chuckled at how cute that was.

It was a great visit, and the boys even told someone how we’d had a great weekend because we took cookies to the firemen for our service project. 4 weeks and counting!

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Service Project #3 – Giving to the Soldiers

With two boys who can make just about anything into a gun (sticks, pens, I’ve even seen one do it with the little cross he made in Sunday School), helping out our troops was a blast. I found an organization online called Soldier’s Angels, and you can send in care package items that will be sent overseas to soldiers. To personalize the activity, I printed some coloring pages and let the kids go to town on them. My hope is that Soldier’s Angels will include them in their packages to let the troops know they are thought of in The Woodlands, Texas. All three of the kids loved coloring the pictures, Tyler especially liked the ones with the “tank” on it. One of the pages had the U.S. seal on it, and Cole asked why the president’s seal was on it. Great question – and I mixed in a little government education with our service project. The boys asked what the soldiers would do with the pictures, and I explained that hopefully it would make them smile. They liked that answer.

While Madison was still in pre-school, I took the boys to the store to buy the care package items. They got a little shy and decided to hide behind the crossword puzzles they picked out. And though it did not take long at all to get the items we sent (and not much money either), they acted exhausted riding in the back of the cart. But aren’t they cute, even when they are acting like shopping is such an exhausting chore (men in the making, for sure).

We got home, and I joined us up with Soldier’s Angels. A few days later, after I’d found an empty box, we packed our items in a box.  I explained to the kids how we’d mail them to the troops. They were really excited, and I was amazed at how Tyler placed everything in the package so neatly. He seemed to enjoy this project the most. Until next time!

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