Helping Hands

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Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord  – Colossians 3:23

Anyone in ministry with children knows there is always a lot to do and many needs! To help get the whole congregation involved, I developed a “Helping Hands” area on my central bulletin board. It covers three major needs: preparation, special materials, and volunteers.

To brand the area, I created a logo using the same colors and Original Surfer font used in the logo for Epworth United Methodist Church Family Ministries (did I mentioned I started a new position this summer?!). In the center of the Helping Hands area is a brief and easy to follow explanation to help adults choose a way to serve: help at home, help by giving, and onsite help.

In my experience, people want to help in ministry with children, but don’t necessarily have the time or ability to help directly with programs. Thankfully, helping with preparation can be done by just about anyone and happen anywhere, which inspired “Help from Home.” Instead of signing up for some nebulous project, I print direction cards onto 4×6 blank index cards so volunteers know exactly what to expect from the project. Each card is labeled with a specific work bag, which are conveniently located for pickup. Inside the work bag (I use heavy duty storage bags 3/$1 from the dollar tree, which are a sturdy plastic with a ziplock close and handles and have held up wonderfully through multiple uses) are all the materials needed to complete the prep project. And, I do mean, ALL the materials right down to scissors or pencils, or whatever else is needed. I also include a sample inside the work bag to accompany the step by step directions.

For special materials (you know, all those things not covered in the budget!), I created “Help by Giving.” By using a circle shape, these tags stand out from the others. After printing onto card stock, I use my 2.5″ circle paper punch (probably one of the best investments I ever made!) to make quick work of the cutting. On each tag I include the item and quantity needed. If the item is specific to an online retailer, like Oriental Trading or Amazon, then I include the product number and retailer as well. In my experience, church members love to donate items to help supplement and support programs. Another tip to encourage donations is to display the price range so folks know what to expect – I rarely ask for anything over $10 and usually the items are closer to $5.

And of course, the need for adult volunteers. There are so many ways to get volunteers signed up and organized. I love using Signup Genius but I’ve found that some congregations, especially those still developing digital communications, need paper and pen. To meet this need, I use a spreadsheet titled “Onsite Help.” I try to give the most needed information (role, time commitment, and a brief description) and request back the information I need (name and email — I really prefer email to phone numbers for ease of sending one blanket message to every volunteer). I attach the spreadsheet to a clipboard, which hangs on the bulletin board via a small binder ring on a large push pin.

That is my “Helping Hands” system! I hope it inspires you to think of a way to get others involved in ministry with children and families and keep everything running smoothly.

Peace.

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Care Compress

Sock Compress

I’d still take comfort, relieved even though in persistent pain; for I’ve not denied the words of the holy one.
Job 6:10

Serve: persons who have chronic physical pain, a physical disability, or recovering from surgery

Connect: every child has experienced a bump or bruise and the resulting pain; try to help them understand that some people experience that kind of pain all day, every day; in the same way children have experienced care and comfort from aches and pains, they have the opportunity to make something that will bring comfort to others time and again

Materials:

  • crew style white cotton sock
  • rice, not instant
  • dried lavender (optional)
  • sharpie markers
  • rubber bands
  • wide ribbon
  • poem with directions printed onto card stock:
    This little sock filled with rice,
    is such a comforting device.
    Microwave for 1-2 minutes on high
    and kiss those aches and pains goodbye.
    Apply it to the troubled spot,
    the heat will ease the pain a lot.
    Or warm those little toes so cold,
    you’ll find this nice to have and hold.
    Or freeze it for a little while,
    and fix that boo-boo up in style.
    Instead of a compress made of ice,
    use this pillow filled with rice.

Directions:

  • allow kids to decorate the outside of a sock with sharpie markers
  • fill the sock with rice leaving about 2-inches at the top
  • add a few pinches of dried lavender (optional)
  • secure the sock closed with a rubber band
  • cover the rubber band with a decorative ribbon
  • attach the card with directions to the ribbon

Special Note:

When we introduced this mission project at North United Methodist Church, we invited Jeremy Warriner, a church member and double amputee, to share his story of living with a physical disability and pain. In a uniquely wonderful way, Jeremy talked with the children and encouraged them in their mission project to share care and comfort with others. For the kids, and all of us adults too, Jeremy put a face to the mission so that suddenly it wasn’t serving “somebody” but rather serving our friends, like Jeremy who many of the kids lovingly know as “the man with robot legs.”

Thanks to Artsy-Fartsy Mama for the cute poem to include with this mission project.