Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Become A Volunteer

Ever since Emma was diagnosed, and we spent lots of time in the hospital, I have witnessed first hand the gentle and quiet care of volunteers.  I have seen the very young to the very old; male and female, all very happily giving their time to help those who are hurting.

During the last year and three months I have had a growing desire to do more, give more, be more.  This desire grew drastically when we went to Disney World.  We stayed at the Give Kids The World Village, which is run almost entirely by volunteers.  Not only that, but the entire Village was literally built with donated money.  Not one loan was taken out to build it where the money wasn't already promised to pay the loan off.

I learned that there are around 1500 volunteers a week at the Village.  We saw small children with their parents volulnteering.  We saw retirees.  We saw teenagers.  We saw entire staffs from corporations working for free to maintain the village.

My whole life I have worked on ministries through my church, but it is usually (I admit) with a tiny huff that I have to go give up a few hours of MY time.  I am commiting here and now: I don't want to be this way anymore!

I have now been at the receiving end of the help these loving folks offer, be it on vacation or at the hospital when someone pops in late at night to ask if I'd like coffee or hot chocolate.  I realize just how much it means when someone cares about me when I am hurting.  When I am going through a tough time.  When I NEED.  Through receiving, I have realized just how blessed it is to be able to be the one doing the giving.

So I want to do my work through the church a little more enthusiastically now.  And not only that, I want to increase my volunteer work.  Perhaps not much right now, since there are weeks when I am confined to my house, but a little at a time.  I also want to teach my kids the spirit of volunteering.  I told Emma the story of the man who created Give Kids The World (I bought his autobiography Gift Of Life, and it is amazing).  She was enthralled!  She said, "Hey Mom?  Do you think I can do something like that one day?  I want to help other kids who are afraid."  My heart melted.  I promised her that she could do that, and I would help her.

In light of this, I have made a list of areas that I (and you) could offer a little help to those who need it. 

1. Church work.  So often I see (and yes, I'm going to say it) church members who begrudginly do their ministries at the church.  I have been one of them.  But there are classrooms that could be cleaned, kids that could be taught, supplies that could be purchased.  Volunteer to be the person who fills these needs.

2.  Hospital work.  There are volunteers at the hospitals who bring around hospital toys to the kids so they won't be bored in their rooms.  They offer magazines or books to the parents.  Some do play groups with the kids.  You could also donate supplies.  Playdough, DVD's, books, crayons and coloring books.  Really, the list goes on.  When Emma stayed in the Huntsville Hospital a few weeks ago the movie selection was seriously lacking ; )

3. Donations.  This could be money or supplies, to any orginization you feel worthy.  Church, a charity, the hospital, or your local soup kitchen or clothes closet.  Whether you can offer $5 or $1000, trust me you gift will be appreciated!  Never think that what you have to offer is too little.  It isn't.  Obviously, my favorite charities from now til forever will be St. Jude, and now Give Kids The World (can you tell I liked it there?).  But maybe you have a heart for the March of Dimes, or something else.  And of course, your local church is a must.  See what you can do--AND DO IT!

This is a small list, and there are many more areas where help is needed.  You could drive people to their doctors appointments if they don't have cars.  You could take a meal to a grieving family.  You could volunteer at a homeless shelter.  Pick up people and bring them to church (you might be surprised at how many people would come to church if they only had a ride).  My charity doesn't have to be your charity.  Find something that YOU can do.

I have been reminded time and again lately that we weren't put here to "eat, drink, and be merry".  I don't want to live so selfishly anymore that I won't give up any of my time or money because I need it for ME.  Will you join me?

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