Although I wasn’t always good about this, since I’ve started my chapter of the Family Service Club, I’ve been really mindful about teaching my kids to notice homeless people in our area. It is so sweet how aware my son has become. In fact, yesterday, while rushing to get home, I didn’t say anything about the man on the corner. Paxton abruptly told me to turn around, imploring me to give him peanuts and socks. I realized that my son’s priorities were more in line than mine were. Of all of the service projects we have done this year, I’m not sure any of them have had as much of an impact as simply teaching my kids to notice the people in need around us. That is why I’m so excited about our next project.
On January 17th we will be providing and serving dinner to 100-120 homeless people in our area. To be honest, I’m pretty intimidated by this project. It is a big task to take on, but I know it is worth the effort. I know that my kids (and I) struggle with entitlement, and I also know that gratitude and service are the best remedies. Here are a few simple ideas on how to work as a family to serve the homeless. If you have other ideas, please let us know!
Four WAYS TO SERVE The homeless with your family
1. Donate to a local shelter: One of the easiest ways to help is to find out the needs of a local homeless shelter and donate. A simple google search will help you find a shelter near you, and if you give them a call, they can tell you what they need, be it blankets, food, etc. Getting your kids involved in shopping for items and dropping them off will be a fun way to make a difference together.
2. Create some “blessing bags” to keep in the car: A blogger who calls herself The Thrify NW Mom has published a blog post on how to assemble “Blessing Bags” for the homeless. She talks about putting together ziplock bags that include things like wipes, socks, and toiletries, etc. to pass out when you come across homeless people. This would be a great project to do with your kids and their friends. Do some shopping at Costco, The Dollar Store, etc. and put together some bags to keep in the car. What an easy and practical way to be prepared to give. Check out her blog post for more details.
3. Serve food at a local homeless shelter: Although some shelters won’t allow young kids to serve food to the homeless, some will. We found a really wonderful organization called Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. They serve hot meals to the homeless, and they are happy to let us bring our kids along to help. Call around to see if you can find an opportunity like this one.
4. Provide food for a local homeless shelter: If you are going to a shelter to serve, why not offer to provide the food as well? I used a website called SignupGenius.com to create a list so that people can sign up to bring food. We will be bringing lasagna, salad, rolls, cookies, soda, forks, knives, and napkins. You can see our list here. (Feel free to donate!) I will have people drop off the food at our house, or they can bring it directly to the shelter and serve it with us. We are really excited to help!
Talking about homelessness with young kids can be challenging, and using this book might make it a little easier.
The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson and Garth Williams: This well-reviewed and award-winning book tells the story of a man named Armand, a homeless man who lives in Paris. While discussing his adventures and the fact that he lives under a bridge, it will be natural to talk to your kids about the fact that not everyone is blessed with a home.
THANKS FOR READING
Like I said, I’m a little intimidated by the scale of our project this month, but I know that serving those who don’t have much is something I need to do, despite any reservations I may have. Do you have any strategies for serving those around you? If so, please share! Also, if you are interested, click here to start a club of your own. Thank you so much for reading, and let’s go love people on purpose.