Category Archives: Service Projects

Service Project Playlist 2017

A few years ago, when Food Shelf Friday was new, I did a fun post about songs I like to listen to during service projects. The list was a bit small, and today I was thinking of more great tunes to energize and inspire while serving others, so I decided to brush it up and bring it back. Enjoy!

1. “Do Something” by Mathew West: I love the opening part when he’s complaining about all the trouble in the world and he says, “God, why don’t you do something?” God’s answer? “I did. I created YOU!” It’s an awesome reminder that God put us on this earth to be a blessing to others!

2. “Hands and Feet” by Audio Adrenaline: An oldie, but a goodie (2001, but I could swear it’s A LOT older). Audio A still appeals to this recovering grunge gen-Xer.

3. “Kings and Queens” by Audio Adrenaline: (not the original or newest version of the band, but the brief period when Kevin Max Smith from DC Talk was the frontman). This song is powerful, both lyrically and in presentation. The music video is fun too. It has the band and some Haitian kids having a snowball fight of sorts with color war powder.

4. “Shine” by the Newsboys: Another ’90s classic! It’s upbeat and joyful, and it talks about being a witness by the life-changing joy that springs from your relationship with God.

5. “Wherever We Go” by the Newsboys: Another great upbeat song about the joy and power of knowing the Lord. It’s ok to have fun as you serve the Lord and others!

6. “Give me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath: Nothing inspires compassion like seeing the world through Jesus’s eyes. I don’t know about you, but I often miss opportunities to help others because I don’t think of it until it’s too late. So this song is like my prayer that I would see things how Jesus sees them: to notice needs and be moved to help.

7. “Fix my Eyes” by For King and Country: This is one of my favorite songs. It’s upbeat and powerful. The chorus lists wonderful acts of service that we all know we should be doing if we’re actively living out faith the way Jesus taught, and then it closes with the clincher, “…above it all – Fix my eyes on YOU!” I love that reminder; it’s easy to burn out trying to be good or do good things when you take your eyes off God and see only the world’s troubles.

8. “Evidence” by Citizen Way: I love the message of this song! “It’s not a flag on a field, not a sign in my yard. Not a cause that I join, not a phrase on a coin, it’s the change in my heart…” Love, acted out, is the true evidence of what we believe.

9. “What are You Waiting For” by Natalie Grant: Sometimes helping others is hard, and affecting real change can feel practically hopeless. But you do have the power to make a difference, so what are you waiting for?

10. “Live it Well” by Switchfoot: This is a new song, and a current favorite of mine. It’s a great anthem about the drive to make your life count and make a positive impact on the world. My favorite part is the bridge, where they sing, “I got one life and one love. I got one voice, but maybe that’s enough. ‘Cause with one heartbeat and two hands to give, I got one shot and one life to live.”

All of these songs can be found on iTunes, Spotify, or YouTube, so check it out! If you have additional ideas, share them in the comments!

Hunger Heroes: Helping Kids Serve their City

I am so sorry that this is late. I wrote it on Thursday then completely forgot to post it on Friday. Better late than never! -K

 

When J was little, he was a big fan of Spiderman and other superheroes. My boy may be big now (16! We’re looking at colleges! Yikes!), but this week I got him to go with me to the Lego Batman Movie. It was fun to relive that part of his childhood together, and we got a kick out of the little kids in the theater and their running commentary during the show!  Kids love superheroes – the costumes and capes, the gadgets and automobiles, the super powers – what’s not to love!?! If your kids are superhero nuts, it can be a great tool to teach them about serving others and how they can be a “hunger hero” in your community.

  1. Superheroes are all about the serve: Ask your kids why Batman protects Gotham City, or why Superman watches over Metropolis. They’ll tell you that their heroes just want to help people. We all have the power to do good and help others – even without a cape. Have your kids brainstorm about ways they can be a hero in their community.
    Random acts of kindness
    – Sharing with friends
    – Picking up litter
    – Helping friends and neighbors
    – Helping out around the house
    – Serving at community events
    – Much more!
  2. Superheroes have the tools: From supernatural powers to high tech gadgets, superheroes are equipped with the tools they need to do the job! Talk to your kids about what tools you need to serve your community. Maybe it’s carrying a bag on your next trip to the park so you have a way to collect litter. Maybe it’s preparing blessing bags, or printing out the food shelf scavenger hunt sheet before your next shopping trip. Being prepared creates awareness of the needs around us and empowers us to help when opportunities arise.

    A few years ago J and I created blessing bags, and while they were great if I was in my car, they didn’t do me much good when I was walking down the street. So I started carrying Subway gift cards in my wallet so I would always have something to offer a stranger who approached me for help. Instead of fumbling around digging for a few bucks in cash (which I probably don’t have on hand), I pop out a card and hand it over. I picked Subway because they’re EVERYWHERE, they don’t serve alcohol, and their food is filling and nutritious. And gift cards take up very little room in my wallet or phone case, so I can always have them on hand.

  3. Superheroes protect their secret identity: The mask and secret identity are standard practice for comic book heroes. The supers are not about praise or fame, but prefer to remain a mystery, popping in to save the day then retiring to a private life. Believe it or not, this is actually biblical! Matthew 6:2 says, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.” The Bible commands us over and over to help those in need, but we’re not to make it a show. It’s not about us, it’s about making life better for someone else, and showing them the love of Jesus through our actions. Talk about this with your kids. You can even reinforce this lesson by letting your little heroes wear their masks when dropping off food shelf donations or helping around the house.

 

I hope this gives you some fun ways that you can talk to your kids about being a “hunger hero” and serving their community just like their favorite masked men and women!  If you have additional thoughts, feel free to leave a comment!

Volunteer Resource List

Like a lot of couples, my husband and I get in date ruts. We always seem to watch the same movies, eat at the same restaurants, and either go bowling or shoot pool when we want to go out and do something. There is a whole big world out there, but at the end of the day it’s hard to think of something original to do. So this year for Valentines, I made my husband a list of all the ideas we’ve talked about but never think of spur of the moment, complete with websites and phone numbers. Now when one of us starts the “what should we do tonight” conversation, we’ve got all the ideas and info right at our fingertips. This week I’m going to do the same for you – a list of non-profits you can volunteer with, including web links. Click on any blue link to go right to the volunteer signup page for that organization. “I didn’t know where to start” is history!
Amazon Smile: Set up your Amazon account so a portion of your spending goes to the non-profit of your choice.

Compassion: Sponsor a child  or volunteer with Compassion at an event near you .

County agencies: Your county probably has many volunteer needs. Check their website for listings. Here is the listing of volunteer needs in Anoka County, Minnesota, where I live.

Dress for Success: Find out how to donate clothing or funds, or consider a hands-on volunteer job. Dress for Success needs people to sort donations and help clients with clothing as well as mentors who can work with clients on job and interview skills.

Feeding America’s Food Bank Finder is intended to help the hungry find a food shelf, but it can also lead you to local donation and/or volunteer opportunities.

Feed My Starving Children: FMSC has permanent packing sites in Minnesota, Arizona, and Illinois, as well as mobile packing events around the country.

Homeless Shelter Directory: Find a homeless shelter near you. Volunteers are always needed!

International Justice Mission: IJM needs interns and lawyers, as well as everyday volunteers.

Meals on Wheels: Drivers and volunteers are always needed!

Minnesota Council of Nonprofits: Job listings including paid work, executive boards, and volunteer jobs at nonprofits in Minnesota.

RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program): Connecting people ages 55+ to local volunteer needs – I work with RSVP at my museum job. They are a huge blessing and make my job much easier!

Second Harvest Heartland: Second Harvest is a network of food banks in Minnesota. They have two locations in the Twin Cities metro area, and they support many other community food shelves.

Venture: Run or bicycle while raising money to fight hunger and human trafficking.

Volunteer Match: Helps volunteers find opportunities in their neighborhoods.

 

That should be enough to keep us all busy for a while! Don’t forget your church is a great resource for volunteer opportunities as well, and feel free to leave more volunteer opportunities in the comments!

 

Food Drive Kit: Tips, printables, and everything you need to host a successful food drive

Hosting a non-perishable food drive to benefit a local food pantry is fun and easy, and this post will help make your food drive MORE SUCCESSFUL and even EASIER!

So, you want to host a food drive…

  1. Who: Decide which sphere(s) of your life you will concentrate on for collecting the food.. Make sure that leadership and group policies (if there are any) are ok with your event before you begin.
    -Workplace
    -Neighborhood
    – Church
    -Civic Group/Club
  2. What: Choose a local food bank or shelter as the beneficiary of your food drive. Donors like to know where their contribution is going; it gives them confidence in their donation. It also helps spread the word about a great local organization. You never know, but the information on your flyer might come in handy some time if a friend/coworker finds themself in need.

    Call up the organization you’ll be collecting for, and ask them what their biggest needs are. The free printables I’ve attached to this post list the food shelf basics, but asking will give you the real picture of your food shelf’s situation and what you and your donors can best contribute. The printables can easily be altered with a Sharpie when you’re filling out the other information.

  3. When/Where: Decide if you’ll be doing your food drive collection-style or pickup-style.
    – If you’re setting up a collection box, like at a workplace, give people a week or so to contribute.
    – If you’re doing pickup on a specific day, give people at least a week’s notice and remind them every few days as the day approaches.

    – Avoid hosting your food drive on a holiday week; people’s minds are busy with their vacation plans, arranging childcare, etc.
    – If you’re hosting your food drive in your workplace, pick a week after you get paid, not the week before.

  4. How: Spread the word!
    – Use social media groups/pages to reach people – posts with more pictures, reactions, and shares are seen by more people on Facebook. The printables in this post include a .jpeg you can use on social media.
    -Send out an email blast – give everyone a last-minute reminder on pickup day or the day before the collection drive ends so they don’t miss out.
    – Hand up posters – The printables at the bottom of the page include an 8 1/2 x 11 printable poster advertising your food drive. All you have to do is print it off, Sharpie in your details, and hang it where it will be seen. There is also a flyer printable that prints 2 flyers/sheet. You can put those in work mailboxes (not postal service mailboxes, that’s illegal unless you actually address, stamp, and mail them), neighborhood newspaper boxes or doors, hand them out cubicle to cubicle or at a meeting, insert them in the church bulletins, etc. There is a box label printable also. If you’re doing your drive collection box-style, make sure the box is sturdy (canned goods get heavy fast!), clearly labeled, and put in an obvious, visible place. It’s good to have all your flyers, posters, social media images, and box label match, so people can easily connect things in their memory.

Good luck with your food drive! Come back and leave a comment if you have more tips or suggestions from your experience!

social-media-image

.jpeg for social media posts (to use: copy/paste or right click and save to your computer)

 

 

 

 

flyerEvent poster (to use: copy/paste into Microsoft Word or Publisher. Adjust size and print)

handout
Handouts (to use: copy/paste into Microsoft Word or Publisher. Adjust size and print)

donation-box
Donation Box Label (to use: copy/paste into Microsoft Word or Publisher. Resize and print)

Charity Review and Service Project: Dress for Success

The answer to long-lasting change in the lives of the world’s poor and hungry is opportunity. If people have the opportunity to get an education, start a business, or get a good-paying job, they can break the cycle of poverty for good. That’s why my favorite non-profits address the vital need for opportunity. That’s why I support fair trade companies, microfinance for access to capital, and non-profits that feed and educate kids around the world.

Recently I learned of another charity focused on opportunity: Dress for Success. The mission of Dress for Success (from their website): “to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” Not a handout, an opportunity. An opportunity to get a professional job and to break the cycle of poverty for good.

So how do they do it? Dress for Success has local offices in most major cities, including right here in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (1549 University Avenue West
St. Paul). At the local office, they collect clean, current-season, professional apparel, and distribute it to women entering the job market. They also offer career services like job interview training, career coaching, and mentoring to help clients find and keep jobs.

You can easily see how their work helps women overcome a significant barrier and gain the opportunity for a better future! Charity Navigator has given Dress for Success a perfect 4-star rating, so you can feel good about supporting their work. They accept financial donations, volunteers (working with both the clothing side and the workforce-prep side), and donations of clean, in-season, professional women’s clothing and accessories. You can bring in a small load from your personal collection, or you can host a clothing drive (info on the website under your local chapter). Right now I’m in the process of sorting through my Great Wardrobe Purge collection, and I’ll be taking a load to DFS in the near future. If you’re interested in doing the same, check out this list from their website:

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