Every year on Judgment Sunday before the beginning of Great Lent, the Church reminds us of our Lord’s invitation to serve others. “'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 'I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'” (Matthew 25.34-36)
Today we find ourselves nearly four months later, in the heart of summer, wondering how we can keep our youth busy. What better way to keep them busy and bring them closer to Christ at the same time! Our salvation depends on our willingness to love God enough to serve others. Here are a few suggestions on helping your children serve others.
Chores for the Elderly - Yesterday I suggested a visit, but why not include a service project with that visit? Seniors aren’t always able to cut grass, trim bushes, pull weeds, clean up the yard, and other general outdoor chores. Something as simple as running a dust cloth over a few pieces of furniture can improve their living conditions and even their health.
Feed the hungry – Many parishes have soup kitchens, or partner with other organized feeding programs. Just because our youth can’t cook, doesn’t mean they can’t help serve food, clean tables, or sometimes equally important, spend some quality time with the hungry citizens our city.
Stock Food Pantry Shelves – Many parishes either host or partner with agencies that feature food pantries for the poor. Schedule time with your local pantry and offer an hour or so organizing the food pantry, or even collecting food in the neighborhood.
Host a Food Drive – There is never a shortage of food or volunteers during the holidays. Summer is always a time when needs run high, and supplies run low. It can also be a time when people who may not be homeless, but extra summer expenses for air conditioning, means less money to spend on food. A great summer youth group project can be to work with your local food pantry or church to collect non-perishable food this summer. If you do want to host a food drive, be sure to communicate with the pantry to determine what types of food are needed. You would be surprised at what type of foods are NOT needed at food pantries.