Last month, we did a couple of different things. The first was Operation Christmas Child. It's a program through Samaritan's Purse that shares shoeboxes filled with gifts as well as the Good News about Jesus with kids in tough situations all around the world.
We had a great time with it. We took our kids to Target and bought up a ton of stuff to fill shoeboxes with. We had a list of the different types of items that we wanted to get (toys, candy, school supplies, clothes, toothbrushes, soap, etc.) and the kids all got a chance to pick out which things they thought the other children would like the most. The boys even got to spend some of their own money on special items that they wanted included. At home, LilKat1 and I carefully laid all of the stuff out, divided it up, and filled all of our boxes. Then we drove all of the boxes down to the dropoff location. The boys liked being able to see the hundreds of other shoeboxes that were already there. We talked about how God is using people in our community and all over the country to share His love with people all around the world. And of course we prayed for all of the kids that the shoeboxes are going to.
Another thing we got to do was box up food for a local food pantry. At LilKat1's school, there are many families who depend on the free lunches that the school gives their kids. When their kids are home for winter break, they can have problems providing enough food for their families. The food pantry provides them with boxes of food to help them get through the couple of weeks when their children are home from school. Our Bible study group decided to help out with this situation. One of the members of our group was able to get a bunch of food to donate to the food pantry. All of the families got together one night and worked assembly-line style to box everything up. All 3 of our children had a great time with this.
Me and LilKat2 were in charge of canned peppers and boxes of breadsticks. Each food box was to get 2 cans of peppers and one box of breadsticks. As a food box would get pushed in front of me, I'd yell out "Two cans!" LilKat2 would run over to his pile, grab 2 cans of peppers, hand them to me, and I'd drop them in the box. Then I'd yell "One box!" and LilKat2 would run back to his pile, grab a box of breadsticks, hurry back, and hand it off to me to put into the food box.
Mrs. BigKat, LilKat1, and PrincessKat were in charge of tempura mix and rice. LilKat1 was in charge of rice. PrincessKat was in charge of tempura, but under LilKat1's supervision. In other words, if she got distracted, it was LilKat1's job to make sure that 2 boxes of tempura still got into the food box.
That night was a lot of fun. It was great seeing how excited the kids were to do things to help out others. They seemed to really like the idea that they were actually in charge of an important job that was going to really help some people in need.
This month, we're going to be able to go to the store and purchase any other food that the food pantry needs. And hopefully, we'll be able to help distribute the food as well.
I think it's pretty cool that our kids are now getting to the age where they can do things like this. As a Christian parent, I want to make sure that the whole idea of ministering to others and serving others is just part of their normal lifestyle. It's not always easy to find opportunities for small children to do things that they can actively participate in, which is why I think it's important to try and come up with creative ideas.
One idea that I had that I would like to start doing it going around to neighborhood garage sales on the weekend and find jackets and blankets that we can give to the people at church that minister to the homeless. I think I would also like to start making it a regular part of our weekly grocery shopping where the kids can go down the canned food aisle and pick out stuff that they'd like to donate to the food pantry.
Like I said, I like it that there are these great Christmas-time opportunities for our children participate in helping others. But at the same time, I want to make sure that they know that serving others isn't something we do just once a year, once a month, or once a week. It's part of sharing Jesus' love which is an all the time thing.