I’m back, y’all!
(Only I’m in Colorado now, not Texas. Am I still allowed to say y’all? I hope so!)
These past few months have been busy. They’ve been chaotic. They’ve been a little bit rough. And I am so, SO excited to be back to writing and sharing with you! Life still isn’t 100% settled, but I’m hoping to be able to share weekly service challenges with you once again. And frankly, I’m ready to stop thinking about myself and start looking for ways to make a difference in my new community.
So this week, we repeat a previous challenge. And since we’ve done this before, I’m going to give you a few options: Easy, intermediate, and difficult. Are you in??
This week, we’re going to reach out to a local shelter and see what we can do to help! And for me, being new in my community, I’m starting from scratch again. I am so excited!
To begin, everyone has the same assignment. Are you ready?
Find an empty box.
(Seriously. That’s it.)
Just get an empty box and leave it in a closet somewhere. As you find out what your local shelter needs, this will be where you’ll put your stash. When the box is full, time to donate! So simple.
And now, our three other ways to help a local shelter. Easy, intermediate, or difficult – what are you up for this week?
So first, the easy plan. If this is your first time participating, you just have two things to do. First of all, do an internet search: simply type in your zipcode and the word “shelter”. Then find something that touches your heart. Homeless shelter? Shelter for families? Temporary housing for teens? An animal shelter? Just pick one. And then step two: find out what they need! Often, you can find a wishlist online that you can simply print. If not, make a quick phone call and ask what the items are that they need the most. Write them down and stick the list somewhere that you’ll see.
I am a firm believer that the first step to making a difference in our community is simply knowing what our community needs. From there, helping will be much easier!
Okay, ready for the intermediate plan?
If you’ve participated in our shelter challenge previously, you already know what your local shelter’s needs are. So this week … time to do something about it! Here are my ideas for you:
* Set aside a cash budget. Then start bargain shopping! Does your shelter need new bedding? Check your local department stores (with coupons, of course) for sales and clearance deals. Do they need canned food? Scour your weekly ads and see how far you can stretch that budget.
* See what you already have in your home that you might be able to donate. Have a surplus of canned food that you probably won’t use before it expires? Share it with someone who is hungry! Have clothing that no longer fits? Let it go, and let it bless someone who does not have the means to buy new clothing. But please, please be mindful that you are not donating junk. Secondhand clothing? Totally fine. Terribly ripped and stained clothing? That will likely end up thrown away. I read this powerful article (and the buzz it stirred up on Facebook) almost two years ago, and it stuck with me. Donating things that our families would use if we still have the need for them – awesome. Donating garbage that we just can’t stand to throw away though – that just causes more work for the volunteers who sort through donations. When in doubt, give the organization a call and ask! Some organizations will accept tattered clothing to cut into rags, and some will have to take time to sort and throw it away. Just be mindful of what you are giving and take a moment to be sure it will be a blessing, not a burden.
* Get your friends to help you. I can’t think of a better way to make a difference than to reach beyond your own influence and let others help! As I’ve shared with you before, my friends and I have done everything from throwing a baby shower for charity to making blessing bags, and it has been so awesome. Tell your friends what you are gathering together, and see if anyone has anything else to donate.
* Advocate. Even if you have no money and almost no time, you can do that! Just let people know what the needs are in your neighborhood. Chatting with a coworker or a neighbor? Mention your local shelter and their needs. Are you on Facebook? Share a link to your local shelter’s Facebook page or wish list and encourage people to check it out.
Even if you are not in a financial position to help right now, you might be able to share the information with someone who can help.
Okay. There are our easy and intermediate challenges. Are you ready for the advanced challenge??
I know that time is precious. I know that you might not think you can commit to helping a local organization on a regular basis. But often, their most desperate need is for volunteers. Women’s shelters need babysitters so the moms can attend work and training classes. Homeless shelters (and youth shelters) need mentors. Animal shelters need people to play with and walk the pets. Food pantries need volunteers to stock shelves and fill orders. Many organizations need people to do simple tasks like answer phones and help with paperwork.
They need your time.
If you are in a season of life with a few extra hours a week, make a phone call and see who you can help!
So there is your challenge for this week! Here is my personal plan:
* Find a local women’s shelter, homeless shelter, and animal shelter
* Start a “donation box” to collect needed items
* Donate at least one bag of items
What about you? Have you done our challenge before? How are you going to participate this week?