Community service is vital, not only in my position as Director of Outreach Ministries but as a parent as well. It’s very important to me that Kamden learns to serve others not from a place of obligation but authentic generosity. He’s not going to learn this selflessness unless he sees me set the example and provide opportunities for us to participate in service projects together. Fortunately, I have a few tricks up my sleeve.
Here are six ways children can serve their community:
We are blessed at First Methodist Joshua to have the Helping Hands Food Pantry. It’s open two days a week and serves residents in Johnson County. I like to take Kamden shopping at Aldi for canned goods then he helps stock the items on the food pantry shelves.
Necessities for First Responders
Two months ago, I was asked to join the Joshua Fire Department’s Strategic Planning Committee. This opportunity has afforded me personal friendships, professional development, and learning the difference between engineer and lieutenant and EMT and paramedic! Since our city’s fire department is volunteer-staffed and taxpayer-funded, budget talks can be draining … literally and figuratively. While these conversations aren’t the most exciting, they have brought to life ideas for residents to take an active role in supporting first responders. Of course, I take this a step further and ask, “How can First Methodist Joshua serve our fire department?”
Did you know that occupational cancer diagnoses are on the rise among firefighters? It’s a huge problem and many departments – including Joshua – are addressing in their strategic plans. As simple as it sounds, baby wipes are one of the most requested items. Carcinogen exposure has been linked to increased cancer diagnosis and cancer-related deaths in first responders. Baby wipes are a quick, easy, and affordable solution for fire fighters to clean exposed skin until they can wash thoroughly at their station.
Other ways to serve first responders:
- Donate cases of bottled water or Gatorade
- Deliver a meal or homemade cookies with a thank-you note
- Donate new or gently used teddy bears to a police station
- Attend a Blessing of the Badges service (usually September 11th)
Meals on Wheels
While Kamden and I have never delivered for Meals on Wheels, we support them in other ways. I play in the annual golf tournament and Kamden’s preschool class regularly decorates placemats that are delivered to clients with their meal kits.
City Clean-Up Day
At First Methodist Joshua, we host #LoveThe558 clean-up days around the community. We coordinate our efforts with the City of Joshua and their Code Compliance Department to identify single parents, the elderly, and disabled veterans who need an extra set of hands for a day of cleaning and revitalizing. Teams of students and adults pick up roadside trash, clear debris, mow yards, trim fence rows, plants shrubs and flowers, and younger children have a “litterbug scavenger hunt” around the church property so they can participate in beautifying our city too! At the end of the day, we gather for a meal and worship together. It’s really a powerful day and something we all look forward to.
Art from the Heart
We haven’t done this in a while, but Kamden enjoys making crafts and art projects. I’ll often send coloring pages to YaYa in Kentucky or we’ll share them with his discipleship group leader. We’ve also sent “art from the heart” to active and retired military veterans and nursing home residents.
Cookies for Troops
I love baking cookies. One of these days I promise – I PROMISE – to share my most favorite, most perfect, most outrageous chocolate chip cookie recipe. Kamden LOVES making cookie dough that we bake into delicious bundles of love and send to deployed troops. The past two years, the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church has delivered THOUSANDS of homemade cookies to troops for Christmas. Kamden and his classmates also make special Christmas cards to put inside the cookie boxes.
What are some fun, interactive ways you’ve served neighbors with your children? Tell me in a comment below!