Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Thinking Outside the Box

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.   
1 Peter 4:10 (the Living Bible)

I am not a very creative person, in fact the discovery of Pinterest a few years ago was indeed one of the happiest days of my life!  It didn’t rank up there with accepting my Jesus as my savior, getting married or birthing 4 boys, but it was a special moment because I no longer had to come up with all my own ideas, I just had to follow the directions and copy the pictures “pinned” by others! If I have a burst of creativity, I can also share the idea with instructions up to Pinterest as well! When we founded Living Bridges Ministry however; the necessity of creative, out of the box thinking became immediately apparent!

Every program we run has its own needs for donations and volunteers and we are still growing and expanding so the needs are ever increasing!  Our prayer is always that God will bring what we need to do the things He has called us to do!  This includes both volunteers and donations.

God has been faithful in His calling of people to volunteer and to donate and we thought we would share with you about these “out of the box” areas of service and creative donations which might spark creativity in your mind about ways you can get involved!  On the volunteer side, in addition to the outdoor event service opportunities, we have several ways people can get involved.  First, we always have and always will ask for prayer and while that is not an out of the box area of service, it is the foundation of everything we do and we cannot stress enough how much we need your prayers! We have a volunteer who has written a letter to area businesses telling them what we do and how they can get involved!  That is helping us make the most of our Chamber of Commerce membership! We have another handful of volunteers that are taking bags of our sorted clothing donations to their homes where they wash, dry, and fold the laundry and bring it back so we can sort it into bins and distribute it!  This is saving us so much time (not to mention the cost of detergent, water, electricity etc) as we used to wash ALL the donations ourselves!  We had a group who came and sorted the clean clothing donations into the bins by size, season, etc.  This will make the setup for the Clothing Exchange go so much faster! We have had volunteers cook homemade dinners or purchase dinners for our Transformations class!  This is saving us so much money and time as we used to buy and cook 95% of our meals!  We have a volunteer who is helping by keeping one of our student’s child two nights of class each month!  This helps this student not to have childcare expenses on top of her other monthly bills. We have a lady that we email when we need to purchase something and she scans the internet for the best deal and lets us know where to purchase the item.  This saves us hours of research time and helps us to be even better stewards of the money donors entrust us with! Several people help simply by liking and sharing our Facebook posts.  Those activities boost the number of people who see what God is doing in Valdosta and they allow people to be invited to our events that might otherwise miss the information.  We alone, can not reach as many people!  Other areas of service where we could use some help include, writing notes of encouragement to the students in our Transformations program (a one and done service opportunity), stuffing and mailing flyers to our families inviting them to our events ( could do this one time or ongoing), gift basket assembly for those who receive homes from Habitat for Humanity (we have all the goodies and the baskets), and creating flyers for our events. There may even be things we need that we have not yet realized, if you have a gift or talent and feel led to volunteer, please reach out to us and we will find a place for you to use those gifts!

  In the donations arena, we do accept cash donations like any other non-profit, but we also collect material donations.  Some out of the box ideas for donations are toothbrushes/full sized toothpaste!  Now that we have added the Easter Egg hunt, we are distributing these necessities twice a year to our families!  We collect bottled water to hand out with our lunches.  It is not uncommon during the Kids Connection for us to go through 60-80 bottles of water in a single Saturday. There are 8 Saturdays of Kids Connection total.  We collect $5 fast food gift cards for our Transformations class.  These are used as incentives for our students to bring their homework, be on time, and participate in the class.  We have accepted used/new storage bins to store craft supplies and clothing for our programs.  We also take extra craft supplies to use for our ministry. We accept gently used and new toys/board games/children’s books for distribution at Christmas time.  We accept home decor to give as bingo prizes when we play bingo with our adults.  We also ask for new pillows, towels sets, tools, drinking glasses, kitchen items etc for bingo prizes.  People have also collected food items from our list (the list is specific because we make 7 matching food bags for each class) for our Transformations program.  

All of these volunteers and donations make our ministry possible!  There is no way we could have imagined all that God would do in the short time we have been around! We are so thankful for each and every person that God brings into our path!

Until next time, be blessed and think outside the box! :-)