As I have mentioned in a previous post, I am leading an outreach initiative at our church called 30 Days of Service. Last year we performed 30 services in 30 days and that lead to extreme burnout for those involved. This year, I came up with the brilliant idea to spread our 30 services over about 53 days. Brilliant, right?!
So, what is 30 Days of Service? It's an outreach program designed to allow our church members impact our immediate community. So what are we doing? Below is a list of all of our different initiatives. If you are interested in learning more - or donating prayer, time, money, items, etc - please feel free to shoot me a message or leave me a comment.
Labor of Love and The Walking Word: These two different activities are connected, which is why I grouped them together. With Labor of Love, church members will gather and stuff bags with information about 30 Days, an invitation to our Thanksgiving Dinner, and information on our church. Two days later, during The Walking Word, we will distribute these bags to four neighborhoods within a mile of our church who may be able to take advantage of some of our efforts during 30 Days.
Faith Feeds: This is one of my favorites (okay, I have a lot of favorites in this project). Faith Feeds will be a weekly event on Tuesdays. One church member will deliver breakfast, lunch, or dinner to the local fire departments, sheriff's departments, doctor's offices, and front office staff at the elementary schools in the area.
Free Paper Day: Every Sunday for 8 weeks a church member will drive up to our local United Dairy Farmers and purchase 50 newspapers. Those 50 papers will be stickered, stating that the paper is a free gift from Sand Run. These papers go fast and we typically get some visitors who wanted to thank us in person. It's a great way to get some new folks into the church!
Take Aways: The Ronald McDonald House is one recipient of our efforts. They provide lunch bags full of snacks to the children and families they touch, so we will be stuffing bags of snacks for those folks.
Good Samaritan Purse Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Drive: Okay, another favorite! This is our third year participating. For about $15 - $20 you can fill up a shoebox to be sent to children overseas. These kids live in extreme poverty conditions and most write back and become pen pals!
Blankets for Bottoms: This is a new activity for us. We will gather and make crib size fleece blankets to take to our local Care Net agency. Care Net will distribute these blankets to expectant mothers who cannot afford basic essentials for their baby.
Crafty Christmas Cards: Showing love to our troops is important to us. This Christmas, we will send Christmas Cards overseas to our troops and also to inmates who have little hope. Our goal is to spread Jesus' love around the world!
Journey Group Drive: Each of our Journey Group's (Sunday School classes) are receiving some funds to carry out their own mission as a group. The only stipulations for receiving the funds is that the mission must be a group effort and not just turning the funds over to another organization. This is getting a lot of buzz and some examples are creating hygeine baskets for the Women's Crisis Center, making snack sacks for nursing homes, and letting the younger kids shop for our adopted families.
Thanksgiving Dinner: The recession hit our area hard, and many folks in our church and in the surrounding communities don't have the means to provide a home-cooked meal for their family. We are going to have a four hour window for anyone and everyone to come enjoy a full Thanksgiving meal - turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, veggies, rolls, and more!
Cast Out the Cold: Homelessness is a huge problem this year, and we found a local organization - Scarf it Up for Those in Need. They knit hats, gloves, and scarves and distribute to the needy and homeless in the area. We are going to take a small group and help them pack boxes full of winter gear so it is ready for distribution.
RedsFest: Not your typical volunteer opportunity, RedsFest is a celebration of The Cincinnati Reds! All proceeds from RedsFest go to the Reds Community Fund. Our church will send about 20 people to volunteer in various aspects for RedFest and the stipend we receive will go towards our adopted families. 20 people x $20 a person = $400 for our families!
Give Thanks: Service men and women receive little thanks for their efforts. We will be sending handwritten letters to our police officers, fire fighters, and emergency service personnel, thanking them for their time, effort, and dedication.
Stress-Free Shopping Extravaganza: We will open the doors of our church to host a vendor bazaar this holiday season. 25+ vendors will have the oppotunity to make last minute Christmas sales without having to pay a booth or table fee. The doors will be open to all who want to shop for 31, BeautiControl, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple, Creative Memories, and more! A one-stop shop complete with door prizes every half hour.
Christmas Caroling: "The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear." Thank you Buddy the Elf! We will spread some cheer to nursing home residents this season with some heartfelt and off key Christmas carols.
Crayons to Computers: This school supply drive will benefit inner-city children and teachers who cannot afford the most basic of school supplies.
Adopted Families: 6 families from our area (2 from our church and 4 from local elementary schools) will get a Christmas morning this year, despite what seemed to be the outlook just a month ago. Our congregation graciously elected to adopt 6 families with small children (well, the 17 total kids range from 2 years old to 17 years old) and we will be shopping the sales to provide all of the family members with a Christmas morning. These families need help - so any outside effort helps just as much as our efforts.
As you can see, there is a lot of momentum at our small church to spread the Word. I recommend that everyone find some way to give back this holiday season. If you need ideas - let me know. I am full of them!