7 Simple Ways to Meet Big Needs
By lorie newman
April 27, 2012
We live in a world with overwhelming humanitarian needs: 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 per day, 1.1 billion people lack access to potable water, 19 million people in America are considered “working poor” and a child dies of hunger every 5 seconds.
With so many needs, where do we even begin? Does helping just one person really matter?
The answer is found in Matthew 25:40, where Jesus says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
One really does matter. You can help the needy around you in practical, creative ways. Whether it’s across the street, across the church pew or across the world, all of us have the power to reach just one needy person.
Create “bags of hope”
A great way to make sure you’re always ready when you encounter someone in need is to have a few “bags of hope” on hand. These are simply plastic bags filled with items that a person in need could use. Bags of hope include but are not limited to trial-size toiletries, snacks, water bottles and small Bibles. Making these bags and putting them in your car will ensure that you are always ready to help someone in need.
You can also have your Sunday school class, Bible study group or other ministry organization donate items and gather together to make the bags. When you’ve finished putting the bags together, distribute them among group members. Make this a fun night for your group by having everyone bring a snack to share, or maybe host a cookout at your house. After eating, as you fellowship together with friends, you can fill your Bags of Hope.
Give a baby shower for a crisis pregnancy center
Hosting a baby shower can replenish the shelves at a crisis center that gives supplies away regularly. Much like a traditional baby shower, start by sending invitations with the date and time of the event and a brief explanation of the purpose of the shower. Be sure to include the center’s name that will benefit from the gifts. The shower can take place at any location, but if you plan to have a large shower, you may want to use your church building. Check with your church office or pastor about the church’s availability.
Be sure to ask the crisis pregnancy center in your area for specific needs they may have. Most centers need the following: diapers, baby wipes, car seats, cribs, crib bedding sets, crib mattresses, infant clothing, high chairs, bouncy seats, diaper bags, blankets, bottles, baby shampoos and lotions, maternity clothes, infant swings, infant formula and safety items such as outlet covers. Items can be new or gently used.
Donate business suits that can be worn for job interviews
Many charities give donated business clothing to those who need it. Often, these charities and ministries also help with interview skills, résumé-writing and job placement. Creating opportunities for men and women to better themselves through employment is a priority for these charities.
There are several places you can donate your gently used business suits. Items that are typically needed for men and women are suits, dress shirts, blazers, shoes, belts, dress scarves, ties, overcoats, new black or brown socks, briefcases, portfolios, dress pants, watches, tie clips and cuff links. Look into donating to one of the following: Men’s Warehouse Suit Drives, Dress for Success, Career Gear or the American Red Cross.
Take meals to a sick person and his or her family
If someone you know is having surgery or a baby, consider asking your small group, co-workers or friends to bring frozen meals to one location. Then put them all in a cooler and let one person deliver them. Write encouraging notes to the recipient to let that person know you are thinking of him or her and praying for recovery. The recipient will be thrilled to receive the meals and can rest without having to “visit” night after night when a meal is delivered. New moms may benefit from a “frozen casserole shower” even more than a traditional baby shower.
If you decide to minister to a family by taking them a meal, be sure to leave a note explaining exactly what the ingredients are and how they should prepare or warm the food.
Rock babies at the NICU of your local hospital
Nearly every major city has a hospital that encourages volunteers to rock babies in their neonatal intensive care unit. If you would like to volunteer, you will likely have to take a class. Your instructor will teach you the hospital rules and regulations as well as how to hold, bottle-feed, pat and soothe hospitalized sick babies. To sign up for training, call the hospital and ask for the volunteer coordinator. Most hospitals offer the class free of charge. You may need to be tested for tuberculosis and pass a background check to qualify as a volunteer.
Write notes of encouragement to inmates
Many wonderful ministries, such as International Network of Prison Ministries and Write-Way Prison Ministries, can put you in touch with a prisoner who wants to correspond. You can also contact a prison in your area, ask for a prison chaplain, and speak to him or her about how to write to an inmate. At www.writeaprisoner.com, you can search for a prisoner pen pal through a state or federal search engine. At www.prisoneralert.com, you can click on “Write an encouraging letter” to reach a prisoner in a foreign country who is incarcerated due to his or her stand for Christ.
Paint or decorate an emergency foster care placement room
Nearly every county, whether large or small, has some type of social services department that works directly with foster children. They will likely welcome any work you are willing to donate. Contact your local office and ask if you can spruce up their emergency foster care placement room. It should take only one day to complete the room if you plan ahead of time, especially if you recruit a team of helpers.
The walls of the room will likely need to be painted. Hang colorful pictures on the wall or, better yet, if you know an artist, have him or her paint a mural on the walls of the room. Toys serve as a distraction for children, so place a few nice baskets of new toys in the room. A basket of reading books will also be appropriate, as well as a basket of art supplies, such as drawing paper, crayons, colored pencils, coloring books, markers and modeling clay.
Becoming Christlike in caring for the needy will challenge you, and at times it may force you to lay down everything you have. It may take all of your resources, all of your money, all of your time ... it may very well take everything.
But isn’t that what Jesus Christ did for you? He gave everything He had to ransom you and set you free. And after all, one day soon everything of earthly value will fade from view. Only what you have done for Christ will remain. It really is that simple.
A Cup of Cold Water in His Name, © 2012 by Lorie Newman. Used by permission of Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512. All rights reserved.