“Simple touch points of appreciation go a long way,” said Greg Wilton, Send Relief’s national director of refugee ministry. “A Day of Service is the easiest onramp for churches to get connected with their communities and give people an opportunity to discover ways to be involved with ministry in their own neighborhoods.”
Wilton and his team at the Clarkston Send Relief Ministry Center are getting ready to host more than 100 volunteers from neighboring states for Send Relief’s Day of Service, Sunday, Oct. 4.
“Our No. 1 objective is to utilize this to let our community know that we are for them, not only through a one-day event like this but also through continual engagement with partners, outside groups and the local church,” Wilton said. “We are seeking the welfare of our city, just like in Jeremiah 29:7, and specifically in Clarkston, we want this to be a catalyst for others to care for refugees and displaced people.”
Send Relief has proposed seven ideas for churches to use to get started on similar projects in their communities:
1. Give meals to those in need
One of the easiest and most effective ways to meet tangible needs is by packing food supplies into backpacks, duffel bags or even plastic bags. Consider distributing the food items to the homeless in your community or underprivileged children who don’t have access to food when they are not in school. Send Relief has ministry guides to help you with your project. You can also work with a local food bank. Contact the food bank to find out what items would be helpful in a backpack they could hand out with other food items.
2. Clean your community
Look for areas in your community where there is a need and where your church can have an impact. It could be trash and litter collection, beautification projects, river and stream cleanups or helping elderly or low-income neighbors with painting or landscape projects.
3. Support kids at school
School systems are working hard to keep providing meals to students in need who would normally get breakfast and lunch when attending classes. With many schools continuing virtual learning, they may need help distributing food. Contact your local school or department of education and ask if they need help with food deliveries. Kids will also need school supplies, even if their classes are online. Not every child can afford those back-to-school supplies, so consider launching a project at your church to fill backpacks with items like paper, pens, pencils, crayons, glue sticks, erasers, notebooks and composition books and folders.
4. Reach out to seniors
For elderly people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, a simple call to talk and pray with them could make a world of difference. Many nursing home residents have likely gone a long time without being able to receive visits from loved ones. A phone outreach to senior living center residents is an easy way to show you care. Contact some local nursing homes and assisted living facilities in your area and ask if they would like to partner with you on this project.
5. Love kids in foster care
Fostering and adoptive families can benefit from a packing project at your church to provide them with basic needs for the child or children they may take in during this pandemic season. Items could include new socks, underwear, hats, gloves, pajamas, shoes, small toys and books. Each bag you pack should be sorted by gender and age or size range. You can connect with your local county office for child and family services or children’s advocates to confirm what items are needed most.
6. Care for hospital workers
An outreach project focused on providing care packages to local hospital workers, first responders, grocery store workers and other essential employees can provide an incredible opportunity to encourage the people who have been working tirelessly on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Pray for your community
Don’t underestimate your impact in the lives of others as a prayer warrior. Make lists of needs and people that are specific to your church community, and spend time praying, not just for the people or their needs, but also for God to show you ways to provide ongoing encouragement and ministry to them. Take it a step further and send handwritten thank-you notes with a short prayer to give to those you’re praying for.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Faith Wroten is the editor of On Mission Magazine, a publication of the North American Mission Board. Send Relief is encouraging churches to organize a day of service in their communities on Sunday, Oct. 4.)