Lending a hand

We had the opportunity to volunteer with some friends this weekend at Feed My Starving Children in Aurora, Illinois. If you don’t know about this fabulous organization, it is worth checking out. They provide meals to children living in poverty in countries across the globe. Funded by donations and manned by volunteers, Feed My Starving Children has volunteer sites set up in several locations in Illinois, Minnesota, and Arizona (check out the towns here).

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This is a popular volunteer spot for families and organizations, but it was our first visit. We gathered with dear friends and nearly 100 other volunteers in a giant warehouse to assemble meals, known as Manna Packs. These Manna Packs contain dried soy, veggies, rice and seasonings. The packs are sealed and boxed up for international delivery. The operation is highly organized, providing hairnets, plastic gloves, and supplies for each station. Every person has a real job and a true opportunity to contribute. We scooped and bagged for nearly an hour and a half and cleaned up afterwards.

Our group included eight children, ages 4-12, which is wonderful because so many service projects require children to be older. Our youngest member, a four-year-old girl, was as integral as the adults.

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Each bench had a little verse of scripture carved into it.

I’ve always wanted to get our (entire!) family more involved with service projects. The kids are just pulling into that zone where they can be trusted to handle responsibilities and tasks and actually follow direction.¬†We participate faithfully in one¬†program to assist the homeless via our church, but that’s really the only thing we do regularly. When kids see their parents active and involved in something, it normalizes the activity.

This was a test run at a project with our entire family in tow. Aside from some anxiety upon entering the building (I suppose it is a little funny to walk into a GIANT room filled with folks wearing hairnets), the kids put on their plastic gloves and grabbed some step stools and dove right in.

The experience was a good reminder that the responsibility is on US as parents to just make the time and effort to sign up, show up, and give our time. Do you have any tips? Great volunteer experiences you’d recommend or like to share? We are all ears!

Lending a hand