Thursday, June 9, 2011

"My Stuff Bags" - Volunteering

Community service is an important part of life, and should definitely be developed at a young age. I want my children to have hearts that serve others. But I have found that I can be easily distracted by what's right in front of me, letting schoolwork, housework, or other things take up a lot of our time, and neglect making opportunities for my children to serve others regularly.

" Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  James 1:27

A few months ago I formed a group with other homeschool families who were also interested in community service. Getting others involved with me helps me stay accountable to my goals. Today was our first big official outing as a group, and it was a great experience.

My Stuff Bags Foundation is an organization that stuffs and provides bags - something to hold on to - to children who are placed in foster care. These children are taken out of their homes, whether due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or safety issues. They take no possessions with them. My Stuff Bags provides duffel bags for them filled with toys, books, a stuffed animal, school supplies, clothing, toiletries, and a warm "security" blanket (all new and age- and gender-appropriate). These are now things that belong to them to help adjust to their new surroundings during this difficult time.

We were a group of 16 - 5 adults, 11 children (ranging in age from 10-15). We were limited to children 10 and up, so I could only bring Ian. Our first job was stuffing toiletry bags, attaching them to the duffel bags, and tagging the duffels with the appropriate label. This was a great assembly line project that had everyone involved. The kids were super efficient and were having a great time. When they would get bored with their task, they would swap with a friend to keep it fresh. We prepped 200 bags.

After a break, we started another assembly line. This time we stuffed the bags with the goodies: blankets, toys, books, school supplies, stuffed animals, puppets, etc. This organization provides such a great product to these needy children. We filled 100 bags here.

For our last minutes there, we knotted the fringe on these blankets, making them a bit more decorative and special. This was a fun way to wrap up the morning. This was also a funny time to hear lots of not/knot/naught jokes. I guess people get a little giddy after working an assembly line for 2-1/2 hours.

This was a great opportunity to serve and we look forward to coming back again.

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