I was thirteen years old and standing in the middle of a grocery store in Mexico.
Just twelve hours earlier, I was in my church parking lot praying with our group before we left for Mexico – excited, nervous, and feeling like I was ready to conquer the world. But now, standing in the middle of a grocery store in Mexico, I was tired, hungry, and a bit scared.
To say I was overwhelmed was an understatement. I had raked yards, cleaned kitchens, and watched pets for the weekend, but never really done anything that required much effort on my part. Recently, my dad had been asked to go on a mission’s trip with our church and he invited me and my brother to come with him. That trip shaped my life.
I said yes because I just wanted to go somewhere other than my neighborhood. I had no idea what that yes would mean for the people we were going to help, or for what it would mean for my brother and I.
Within a couple of days, we built a small box. That is the best way to describe what the people we helped called their “new home.” Building a home in Mexico was just the beginning, though. Through that experience, I was able to interact with people I had never engaged with before. I was able to do something that changed lives.
When we arrived in Mexico, a family did not have a home.
When we left, they did.
While I was there, I was able to work alongside my dad and learn from him in so many ways. I saw how he talked to people, the way he treated everyone like they were important, and how he worked hard no matter what circumstances presented themselves.
I started that trip standing in a new place, taking in a language I did not understand, and feeling overwhelmed. I left feeling empowered and confident that I could survive a new situation and effect change. That trip was important to me because it made me put my money where my mouth was by stretching me to serve as I had never done before; and it enabled me to learn from my dad and see him in action.
Helping others is important. It gives us an opportunity to
get out of our own heads and do something good for someone else.
Helping others is important. It gives us an opportunity to get out of our own heads and do something good for someone else. It can be especially powerful when our kids see us serve and get a chance to serve alongside us.
As we enter the holiday season and so much around us is focused on buying things, Good Dads want to offer some ways to balance that message by helping you find ways to help others with your children.
Below is a list of places and organizations where you can volunteer this holiday season. We encourage you to find an opportunity, get signed up, volunteer with your kids, and let us know how it goes. Please share your story and any photos you might have by emailing [email protected]. If none of these opportunities look interesting or seem feasible, find your own opportunity. These are many ways to teach your children how to serve others by working alongside you.
Convoy of Hope: Convoy of Hope is a local disaster relief agency that serves people throughout the world. They offer a variety of volunteer opportunities for those 10 or older. One easy way for families to get involved is to build a hygiene kit. To find out more about what to include and how to drop off your kit, check out instructions here. To find out more general information about volunteer opportunities, check out Convoy of Hope’s volunteer link.
Give Pulse: Give Pulse is a listing site for several organizations looking for volunteers. It includes opportunities like community garden workdays, remodeling projects, serving meals, and food pantry assistance. You can search for opportunities for specific days, times, or at a specific location. To find out more, go to the Give Pulse website.
Humane Society: The Humane Society is a local animal shelter that supports the fostering and adoption of animals. All volunteers are asked to fill out an application and attend an orientation to get started. They ask that volunteers commit to ongoing engagement of at least four hours per month. To find out more about volunteering, find more details here. Those under 16 years old interested in volunteering can be a part of the Junior Volunteer program. Volunteer forms can be found here.
Least of These: Least of These is a food pantry located in Christian County. Typical volunteer opportunities are limited to volunteers 18 and older. However, they sometimes offer special volunteer opportunities for families. These opportunities are shared on the Least of These Facebook page. To find out more about volunteering, check out the website.
Ozarks Food Harvest: Ozarks Food Harvest is a hunger relief organization that is partnered with Feeding America Food Banks. They offer multiple volunteer opportunities to pack food boxes and bags each week. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old. All minors should be accompanied by an adult. To find an upcoming volunteer opportunity, check out their list here.
Ozarks Greenways Trail: Ozark Greenway Trails is a part of a trail system throughout Springfield. The City of Springfield has partnered with the Trash Collection Program for self-led trash collection volunteer opportunities on the trails. These opportunities are available to individuals, families, and groups of all ages and sizes. To participate, pick a trail location, a date and time that work well for you, and schedule your volunteer opportunity by contacting John Montgomery at [email protected] or 417-864-2015. They will provide bags and trash pickup.
Springfield Parks Board: Springfield Parks Board offers a variety of volunteer opportunities and causes. The application process involves filling out an application, submitting two letters of reference, and a background check. To get started with the process, download the application and submit it to [email protected]. To find out more information about volunteering, call 417-864-1049.
Victory Mission: Victory Mission provides regular outreach services to those facing challenges in the local community. They have a variety of ongoing volunteer opportunities. There are some special holiday family volunteer opportunities, including assisting with delivering premade holiday food baskets to those experiencing food insecurity on December 11th from 9-12. To reserve your spot to deliver a basket, call 417-864-2200. To find out more about general volunteer opportunities, go to Victory Mission’s website.
Drew Dilisio is the Community Support Specialist and Counselor at Good Dads. He is a recent graduate of Evangel University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program, a husband, and a father. He can be reached for questions or comment at [email protected].