During the course of my journey, I have done a lot of research trying to find good service projects for us to do. Unfortunately for us, so many of the projects I have found are really not suitable for preschoolers. Rather than just toss those ideas aside, I thought I would share the ideas so that anyone looking for projects for older kids or for adults can use these ideas. I will post periodically when I come across good ideas, and I hope to cross all these ideas off my list some day!
1. Family Mission Trip: The number one project I want to do with my children when they are older is to take a mission trip vacation. (I’m not sure “vacation” is really the right word here, but you get the idea.) Some friends of mine, Gina and Jason, adopted two children from Ethiopia a couple of years ago. Since that time, they have gone on several mission trips to Africa to help in orphanages. They are even leading a mission trip to Uganda and Kenya in July of 2012 through Visiting Orphans. Three other friends of mine, Emily, Sarah and Christian, plan to go on the trip. I am so envious! What an amazing experience they will all have!
Although I would love to join them, I really feel I should wait to take this type of trip until I can take my children with me. We live in such a luxurious bubble in our suburban, middle-class life. What an impact it would have on my kids to visit and help the orphans in Africa! (Visiting Orphans actually offers mission trips to a number of countries around the world.) Visiting Orphans allows children as young as 9 to attend their trips. I know Gina and Jason have taken their older children, and I can only imagine the impact it has had on them. We better start saving now, though, as taking a family of four on this type of trip is not exactly cheap!
There are numerous organizations out there that offer family mission trips. I have learned that it is generally easier to take children on such trips in other countries because places in the United States are often too worried about liability issues to allow children. Some other organizations I have found are: Experience Mission, Adventures in Missions, and World Servants. World Servants actually states that they have no minimum age, and to encourage families to bring young children, they offer discounted rates for children 8 and under. Hmmm…. maybe we can do a family mission trip sooner than I thought!
2. Become an Organ Donor. The response to my project about registering to become a bone marrow donor got such a great response, I thought I should list this as well. I actually registered to be an organ donor quite some time ago, or I would have done it as one of our “projects.” In Texas, you can register to be an organ donor here. By formally registering to become an organ donor, you take the burden off your family to have to make that decision. Furthermore, you ensure that YOU are the one to make that decision. The idea of having a small part of me live on to save another is so appealing to me. I truly do not understand why anyone would not register to be an organ donor. If you have not already done so, please take a minute right now and register!
3. Volunteer to serve food to the homeless. I was particularly interested in doing this project with Abby. I thought it would really make an impact on her to see that there are people in our own city who do not even have enough to eat. Unfortunately, the organizations I have come across for this type of volunteer work do not allow little kids to participate. Generally, the minimum age is 12. If you are in the Dallas area, a great organization to volunteer with is Soup Mobile. It makes me sad that Abby and I cannot yet volunteer through this organization, but maybe some of you can!
Every Christmas, Soup Mobile does a special project called Celebrate Jesus that I would love to participate in some day! Here is an excerpt from the Soup Mobile website about Celebrate Jesus: “We take 500 homeless men and women right off the streets of Dallas and put them up at the downtown Dallas Hyatt Regency Hotel for Christmas. They all receive new clothes, fabulous gifts and lots of love. Most important is that when they wake up on Christmas morning it’s not in a cardboard box under some bridge, but in a warm safe bed at the Hyatt.” Sign ups to volunteer for Celebrate Jesus start November 1. I think there may be projects I can do with Abby for Celebrate Jesus, because when I originally contacted the leader of Soup Mobile, he told me about this. Come November 1, I will be checking the website for opportunities for us. I hope you will consider doing the same!
I am regularly researching trying to find new and interesting projects. If you come across a great organization or project idea, please pass it on to me! Even if it’s not something we can do right now, it may be an idea worth sharing for others. As I come across great ideas, I will be sure to share them. If you try any of these projects, please let me know. I love hearing that others have been inspired to serve!