Community Service has been on my heart a lot lately. Before I had children, I was constantly searching for and involved with community causes. In high school, I was president of our service club and served on a community teen council. In college, I started and ran a summer program for homeless children at a local shelter. As a young teacher, I helped begin a free after school tutorial program for our ESL students and an outreach program for their parents. I loved serving others, especially children. Before I had children, I imagined that I would continue to serve in the community, serving soup to the hungry with a baby on my back. Tutoring in inner city schools while my toddler sat next to me in a stroller. I thought that when I didn't have to go to work each day, I would fill my days with service to others.
I am not sure what happened. I am not devaluing the service I render each day to my children. I know it is the most important work I can be doing right now and I love every minute of it. I wake up every morning overwhelmed with gratitude that this is my life. That I get to be here in this home, with this man, with these children. I love my life. Which makes it even harder to understand how I allowed 6 years to go by without helping anyone outside the walls of our own home or church community. I truly believe that "Because I have been given much, I too must give." I want my children to learn to follow the Savior's example of healing the sick, feeding the hungry, and comforting the lonely. And I want them to learn it by serving side by side with me and their dad. I want to be a family that serves the community together.
I have read a couple of books recently that were wonderful and inspired me to want to do more. I highly recommend both.
52 Weeks of Family Service does just what the cover says it does. It shares meaningful ways you can help others as a family. It even includes modifications for toddlers and teenagers. And Family Home Evening Lessons with every idea.
Passionaries was recommended to me by a friend. It shares the story of several people who individually felt led to fill a need that they saw in their community or in the world. And then impacted thousands of lives.
But before I go changing the world by starting my own nonprofit this week, I also found some neat, very simple ideas online on this blog that I love.
Katherine Marie is challenging her family to do one random act of kindness together each week this whole year. I love her ideas, and her kids are the exact same ages as mine! The services are very simple and age appropriate for young children.
I also have real life great examples. I have a sweet friend who does "Friendly Fridays", choosing to do a fun service each week with her children. She also recently hosted a community children's book drive for a local hospital.
My Sister in law holds a consignment sale and donates the profits to a community organization.
I am not sure what I will end up doing, yet. I am praying that my heart will be led to find a cause that my children and I can support together in meaningful ways. I want to do better. I would love to hear how you and your little ones find ways (or found ways, if they are older now) to serve in the community.