You can give presents that fit nicely under a tree. Wrapped in lovely paper and finished with a bow. A thoughtful and wonderful way to show care and love. But let’s not forget about another gift we can give, one that doesn’t fit under the tree. The gift of service.
Consider how you can serve others with your time and talent through volunteer work. It doesn’t have to be complicated – that is the beauty in service! Identify a need in the world around you that leverages the experience and talents you have. It is often the simple, and maybe even easily overlooked tasks, that will bring blessing to another.
- Make a meal for a family experiencing tragedy, loss, or a medical situation. This comes alongside them in a practical way.
- Gather supplies for a local food pantry or shelter for those who are experiencing homelessness. Check their website or make a phone call to first determine what is most needed. As a bonus, ask if there is an opportunity to help sort items. This is an especially great way for children to serve because of the tangible nature of the items collected.
- Find a volunteer-run thrift store, like the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program (MCEAP) Thrift Store, and give your time to work in the store, helping their organization. Within your own community there are undoubtedly volunteer-run organizations that would welcome your support!
- If you are part of a Church family, figure out a need that you can help with. Our church regularly needs volunteers in the Children’s Ministry and help with parking and greeting folks each Sunday.
- Serve at an event happening in your community. New Hope Girls had a major event in my community and I was so amazed and encouraged by my friends (both new and old) who gave their time generously to serve our organization.
Just like that, you have 5 ideas for how you can bless others through service! But why does it matter? Why even give in this way?
Why Does Volunteering Matter?
For me, serving is prioritizing another person’s needs above your own. That’s important! We need to humble ourselves and care deeply for others – that is, if we want to live a life that is cloaked in greatness. As my mom says, we need to “see beyond the end of our own noses.”
Service lifts our eyes up, and out, to how we can make the world a better place – starting with one very specific area of impact. The paradox of service is how it simultaneously blesses YOU while you bless THEM! It comes full circle, right back around to you, and will leave you with a full heart.
Love in Action
Serving is Love in Action. It is putting a feeling into motion and living in alignment with the goal of “loving your neighbor” – which is one of the most important things we can do! It moves past using “likes” or “comments” on social media – it puts weight behind our words. After all, love is a verb.
As I mentioned, New Hope Girls was blessed by a large group of volunteers who helped us pull off a very successful local event! I felt so much love as this amazing group of women shared their time on a Saturday afternoon to help our organization succeed!
As you volunteer you will become more intimately aware of the needs of others. It will become personal. For example, donating to help those experiencing hunger will humanize a need that so many are blessed to not experience. human connection with. Giving your time to help your church or at an event will give you appreciation for the level of detail and care that goes into the service/event. Volunteering humanizes causes, issues and needs.
It is also a reminder to operate from a place of gratitude! We can be so focused on what we don’t have that we forget to celebrate the numerous things we do have. It is an opportunity to reframe our realities with a focus on thankfulness.
I connected with my Instagram and Facebook friends to explore the value of volunteering and the benefits of service. I heard a consistent and clear message that volunteering and service forge important connections.
My friend Tara pointed out that service is a reminder that we all depend upon each other. Her feedback reminded me that there have been times that I have needed the gift of service – and how special it was for me and my family. I think back to when I was pregnant with Harper and required surgery for melanoma. Our church family blessed us with a lot of meals! As we dealt with the recovery and emotions of my health situation we had one less thing on our mind. I can still recall my church family members who showed up for us in that way (Karen – if you are reading this, you are one I’ll always remember from that time!).
My dear friend Elizabeth shared, “When we help raise someone else up, we rise with them. To know you may have positively impacted someone else is a true blessing.” I love how Elizabeth underscores how we have a responsibility to each other as a connected community. Another friend, Abby, also affirmed this point, “It’s an investment in our community, which strengthens the entire community.” When one member of the community is doing just a little bit better, we all are.
What about you?
There are so many reasons to volunteer your time and give generously through service! I’d love to hear more from you about how you have learned and grown through service – comment below or connect with me over Facebook and Instagram!