Over the past several weeks, whether through e-mail or in conversation, I have been asked how I learn of the families Love Your Neighbor, St. Lucie County sponsors. I’ve also heard countless comments like, “I wish I could do something like that for my community”, along with many compliments on a job well done. So, I decided to sit down and give you all some pointers on how YOU can help your own neighbors. I must warn you, though. Once you begin, you can become quite addicted. It’s such a joyful experience overall.
- Join your local online Freecycle chapter. This is a very easy and convenient way to give to people. The website is www.freecycle.org. My friend Kelli introduced me and I give stuff away frequently. Freecycle is also how I found two of the families St. Lucie County has helped. Don’t have a Freecycle for your area? Start one! I believe the site tells you how.
- Join Craigslist for your area. We’ve all heard horror stories about Craigslist and I’ll admit I was skeptical at first, but I have never met a weirdo from that online community. I am cautious during the transactions in order to protect myself and my family, but if you want to give things away and not sell them you can post on the “Free” board and give stuff away just like on Freecycle. I found our Christmas 2010 family that Love Your Neighbor is sponsoring on Craigslist. I also found 2 volunteers on Craigslist.
- If you have school-aged children, ask their teacher or principal if there is a family in need. They will know more than you can imagine. You can provide things like meals, canned goods, clothes, shoes, school supplies and so on. You can even do it anonymously allowing the teacher or school to give it to the family for you. The sky really is the limit here. Love Your Neighbor, Indian River County found out about a poor family this way and has provided that family with a free stove via Craigslist as well as a full traditional Christmas meal from an anonymous donor. All it takes is a phone call and some motivation and you can do amazing things within your child’s own school community.
- Give meals to people in your life who have been hospitalized or who are moving (out or in). Even one night’s dinner will make a healing person feel loved. I will never forget when one of the churches I used to go to organized meals for me after I had Jeremy. I was astonished and forever grateful. That is the reason why I got involved in doing what I do to begin with. You can do meals for those who have had babies, surgery, who are moving away, or who have just moved in. Believe me, the meal will be received with gratitude and you will feel awesome. It’s so simple, yet so profound. You can even get your friends to help you especially if your meal recipient is a mutual friend to all of you.
Well, there you go friends… four ways to give. Some might say it’s an act of paying it forward. I believe it’s sharing your God-given blessings with others. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!