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.
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.
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…
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!
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!
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…