It was early on a Saturday morning and we were trying to get to a sporting event. We made a wrong turn off the highway and ended up on an unfamiliar street in a less than desirable part of town. Immediately I realized that we were smack in the middle of our city’s homeless district. At the time my oldest was only in second grade and my son only five. My children observed the crowd of men and women, who had just left the shelters, walking the streets. “Mommy, what are all those people doing with sleeping bags and backpacks?” I took a deep breath, knowing an onslaught of questions were coming. “Well, that man over there is carrying his whole house on his back, everything he owns is on his body.”
The truth of this was made more poignant because we had literally just been in the middle of a conversation where my children were discussing wanting a new house because all of their friends seem to be moving into bigger and nicer homes.
My children sat in stunned silence for a few moments, taking in the truth of my words, before the questions continued. That was a defining moment for our family.
It’s easy to sit back in our comfortable homes and talk to our children about the homeless, the poor and the disadvantaged. But our children have to experience it, take in the reality of it to truly understand. We really want our children to know that they can make a difference, even in the simple acts. We have all been given gifts that are meant to be shared. Serving others instills empathy and develops a call to action. It teaches our children leadership and responsibility. If you are looking for ways to serve with your children, here are some things that we have done in the last few years. Some things are ongoing and some only happen once. Our hope for our children is that through serving, we would instill a love of service into their hearts.
Service Ideas for your family
-Do Meals on Wheels with your children. You can volunteer once a week, a month or just as a sub.
-Participate in Feed my Starving children when it comes to your town, or organize an event.
-Take a meal to a family with a new baby, or adopted child
-Drop off cookies to someone who has had a bad day
-Make blessing bags to give to the homeless on the side of the road
-Visit a nursing home and spend time with the residents
-Take flowers to someone who is sick
-Mow the yard for an elderly neighbor
-Clean house for an overwhelmed mom
-Visit a homeless shelter and serve a meal
-Participate in the Angel Tree and allow your children to shop for their angel
-Go on mission trips with your children
-Put together a box for Samaritans purse at Christmas
-Sponsor a child in another country
-Participate in your city’s clean up day
-Get involved in your neighborhood HOA or homeowners association
-Volunteer with your local government to pass out flyers or stuff envelopes
What have you done to serve with your family?