"Everybody Can Be Great, Because Everybody Can Serve" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
My parents always made it a point to encourage and emphasize the importance of community service and volunteering to help others. Over the past few years especially, I began to grasp the significance of serving others - after all, it is the perfect anecdote to feeling small and insignificant in this world. As Martin Luther King, Jr. so rightly stated, everybody can serve. It is so incredible to know that everybody, no matter what age or background, can make a difference in the lives of others... even my young little self. This past week has included some super fun service projects that I thought I'd just share a little about.
In Scottsbluff County, there is a program called Meals on Wheels, and one called Shopping for Seniors. I recently joined and started my first day on Tuesday! Meals on Wheels is a program that delivers meals to the homebound, elderly, and disabled. Volunteers each take a route that takes about an hour to make the deliveries. This is such a wonderful service to those who would not otherwise be getting the proper nutrition they need each day. Shopping for Seniors is a program where volunteers call those who are not able to do their own grocery shopping, take down their grocery list, and then shop for it for them. Our local grocery store here in Scottsbluff, Plaza Foods Co-op, then delivers the groceries. Both of these programs are vital to many people in the area, and I am so excited to now be a regular volunteer with these programs!
On Monday, I went to Longfellow Elementary, here in Scottsbluff, to help kindergarteners and first graders carve pumpkins for the local Zoo's "Spooktacular" - a Halloween event. We had so much fun as they drew out their designs, and then we worked together to pull out the goo and seeds (I usually ended up doing most of that!) and carving out the faces. Pictures from that day will be coming soon on my Facebook page!
Thursday was the community soup kitchen, so a couple friends and I headed over to the local First Presbyterian Church to help serve a sloppy-joe dinner to a crowd of hungry people. It is always so incredible to see their appreciation for the food, and remember just how blessed we all are.
A couple months ago, I began sponsoring a little girl from Peru named Azumy, through World Vision. Then, when I attended the Women of Faith conference, I found a little boy named Heh, from Myanmar, and "adopted" him as well. Even though I'm not allowed to have children, or I'll be disqualified from the Miss America program, I guess I found a "loophole" here! (: After all, I do like to call them my children!
Through World Vision, it only takes $35 a month to take care of a little boy or girl- what a tiny sacrifice to make when it could save the life of a child on the other side of the world. It is so much fun to send them letters and hear back from them, and I just recently sent over some coloring supplies and stickers for Christmas. It's just amazing that every person can so easily change someone's life! If you are at all interested in finding more information about this, just go to www.worldvision.org - there are many ways in which you can start making a difference today.
Although it is hard to believe the holiday season is around the corner, it's true - Christmas is only about eight weeks away! One of the greatest and most fun projects to be a part of this Christmas is Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse. Each year, over 8 million children receive shoe boxes full of essential needs, plus toys and other things, for Christmas through this program. It's so easy to participate, too!
You can go to www.samaritanspurse.org/occ and find complete instructions on how to pack a shoe box, and then either mail it their national offices, or find your nearest collection center. We have one right here in Scottsbluff, so I'm getting started right away! You can put coloring supplies, hygiene items, toys, and candy in a regular shoe box, wrap it if you'd like, put a label on it to indicate whether it's for a boy or girl, and what age group, (found at the website) and then mail it or drop it off at a collection center! It's a great activity to include the whole family in - I can remember all of my brothers and sisters going to the store with my parents to load up a cart with these items. I loved picking out all sorts of things for kids my age who I knew were in a country far away, but loved Christmas all the same.
We would go home and I would fill and wrap as many boxes as I could, thinking about the little girls across the world for whom this would most likely be the only present they received on Christmas. Knowing that by doing something so small, you are making all the difference in the world for someone you may never know, is the most wonderful feeling in the world.
Each of us is not great or wonderful in any way, of our own merit, but we CAN by great, because each and every one of us can serve others, even in some small way.
Striving to Serve,