By The Hewitt Staff
Teach your children to be “God’s Spies”—to Stop, Look, and Listen for needs that your family or church can meet. You will be preparing them to be the good Samaritans of their generation. The following are suggestions you could adapt for your own situation.
Select a needy family and “adopt” them. Help them with physical needs (food, clothing, finding appropriate shelter). You may be able to help them with spiritual and emotional needs. You can help with social needs, too: Be friends with them and offer encouragement. You will find many ways in which your children can participate in this project such as sending encouraging notes and/or Bible verses, giving clothing, playing games with their children, entertaining babies and preschool children, helping to prepare food, and setting a good example of thoughtful behavior.
Help an elderly person in your neighborhood. There are many jobs children can do to help those who are not physically active or have limitations that age often imposes. Children can sweep walks, shovel snow, take out trash, bring in the mail or newspaper. Older children can change light bulbs or clean in hard-to-reach places. They can take dictation and write letters.
Children can be companions to the elderly by visiting, playing games, or working jigsaw puzzles. The elderly person or couple may enjoy hearing your children read, sing, recite Bible verses or poetry. The list is endless. You, the parent, will need to make a careful assessment of what is needed. It is important to be consistent so you will not disappoint the person you are serving. Make a commitment and definite plan to do the service at a specific time. You may choose to do it monthly, weekly, or for a few minutes each day, based on your abilities and the needs of the person you are serving.
NURSING HOME RESIDENT
Visit a nursing-home patient once each week or each month. Ask the nurse in charge which resident does not have visitors and would benefit most from your visits. Your children can take flowers from your garden, notes or Scripture they have carefully written, small gifts such as a piece of fruit, a pair of slipper socks, or small homemade craft. The children may sing, read, recite something by memory, visit, smile, hug, and encourage.
The presence of children will be a bright spot in the patient’s life. If the sights, smells, or sounds in a nursing home make your child uncomfortable at first, help him understand the reasons for them. Show your children how to appreciate the opportunity to serve others and recognize the blessings that come from service.
Find out the specific needs of the handicapped person. Form a plan for your family to help in those areas of need. Invite him or her to your home for a meal prepared by your child or take him or her on an outing with your family.
There are elderly shut-ins or disabled people who need daily contact to ensure their well-being. Call your city’s volunteer coordinator to find out if there is a list of such persons. Select one or more persons to call each day. You will be given instructions detailing who to call or what to do if the person is not well or needs some type of assistance.
You can make picture scrapbooks to be used in the pediatric ward of your local hospital or the larger children’s hospital nearest you. Preschool children enjoy colorful pictures of many kinds. Collections of puzzles, riddles, word games, drawing, and things to do may be included in the scrapbooks for children who are older. Be sure to suggest only things that a child can do while in a hospital bed. You may wish to seek general guidelines from the hospital personnel before beginning this project.
Have your own fund-raising project or assist in projects such as bake sales, garage sales, or other projects to raise money for special mission work or help for a family who have experienced a disaster such as a house fire or flood. You may desire to raise money for special medical help needed by a child or family. You may choose to help your favorite charity in their fund-raising drives.
Offer free baby-sitting to single parents who cannot afford a sitter but would appreciate a break. Single parents are often lonely—be a friend. Invite them to dinner occasionally, to spend time with your family.
Consider serving in some of the following ways: cleaning litter from a portion of highway, road, or street near your home (Adopt-a-Highway plan); doing mailings for charities/ other worthy organizations; e.g., Cancer Society and Heart Association; sorting, mending, etc., in clothing distribution centers; participating in neighborhood associations; working in a soup kitchen or feeding program for the homeless or elderly.
Discuss with your pastor and leaders where your abilities can be best used, perhaps in food preparation, landscaping, mailings, mission projects, and on work crews for clean-up/repair projects.
ORGANIZATIONS USING TEENAGE VOLUNTEERS
Big brother/sister programs
Charity walkathons/Salvation Army
Community action agencies (drug/alcohol programs)
Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Hospitals (contact volunteer service departments)
Red Cross (teens can donate blood if accompanied by a parent)
U.S. Forest Service and park recreation departments