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After a recent mission trip to Ecuador with Operation Christmas Child, I felt compelled to search for more opportunities to serve in my own community. You don’t have to go across the country or overseas to serve! I've always had a desire to do missions with my kids, but because of their ages and my schedule I had put that intention on the back burner. It took a trip across the world to encourage me to make local ministry more of a priority for myself and my family. In fact, I arrived home longing for a family mission trip that would enable us to all go to a foreign land to serve together. But then I heard a gentle whisper saying, “You don’t have to go across the ocean to be My hands and feet.”
For many people, the holiday season is a reminder of the needs that exist within their own community. These needs, however, are just as urgent throughout the entire year. It’s important for families to get involved. As I began looking for tangible ways for my kids to serve, finding places that welcomed children under age 10 turned into quite a challenge. Most moms would love the chance to serve within their communities, with kids in tow, if they had the chance. As I began to seek out those opportunities, I found my kids and I can work together easily in these ways:
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- Food pantries. Kids can cross off barcodes, sort cans, or pack a box full of nonperishables to drop off at your local food pantry. Don't forget that you can stock up on nonperishable food items inexpensively when you buy things on sale. The easiest way to do this is to use coupon matchups.
- Make a meal. I personally feel there is no better way to show love and give back than to put your heart into a meal for someone else! I have a Recipe Box full of budget-friendly recipes I pull from. Or you can check out some of my favorite Pinterest boards, which are loaded with great ideas.
- Clothes closets and coat drives. Kids can help sort clothes into sizes and seasons. They can pair up shoes. Take a blanket, scarf or coat to your local homeless shelter today. Be on the lookout during Black Friday sales and buy that extra gift then.
- Retirement homes. Kids can sing, draw pictures, and play games with residents. Always call ahead and let the staff know you would like to help. Ask them if they would be willing to carve out some tasks your children can do in order to raise up a new generation of volunteers.
- Angel trees and toy drives. Many areas have a local angel trees, where you can buy a gift for a child to receive. All you do is pick it up at the store and drop it off at the designated location.
- Sponsor a child. What easier way to serve than to do it from the comfort of your own home? Organizations like Compassion International have made it easy to encourage and provide for children in need. We send a little extra at Christmas to our sponsored children, and we write them encouraging letters every month. I had no idea of the power of a letter until I visited my sponsored child and saw the difference a letter makes.
Kelly Hancock is a wife, homeschooling mom, blogger and author of Saving Savvy, which offers practical tips for cutting your grocery bill in half and establishing a lifestyle of spending less in order to save and give more than ever. She loves to encourage others to spend less and eat well. You can find her on her blog FaithfulProvisions.com, on Facebook and Pinterest.
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