By Stephany Eley, APR
In a season of incredibly busy, hectic schedules volunteering is probably not at the top of your to-do list. For me this year, volunteering at a local ministry that provides transitional housing for homeless women and their children was the kick-off to my holiday season.
I am blessed because Christian Care Ministry allows each employee paid release time to volunteer during our work week. Our department decided we wanted to use some of our hours to volunteer as a team during National Volunteer Week. The transitional housing organization was excited to get our help decorating their offices and children’s area for Christmas. We were thrilled with our assignment!
Our first task was to assemble a large artificial tree in the office reception area. The tree was an older model that had been donated to the ministry and our team reminisced about past Christmases with our families as we worked to assemble the ascending rows of branches.
As we were working, some of the resident mothers came into the office. One young mother came in with her infant daughter. We stopped to coo over the adorable baby and I couldn’t help but think of another unwed mother 2,000 years before who needed safe shelter to give birth to the Son of God. This precious child and her mother are safe because of the generosity of our community and the willing service of local volunteers.
Next, we sorted through the decorations available and used our creativity to select just the right options to create a theme. It may merely be a coincidence that two of our team members are Florida State University grads and the decorations ended up being Garnet and Gold.
As we decorated, we couldn’t help overhear one of the ministry occupational counselors preparing one of the residents for a job interview. This reinforced our respect for this ministry and their mission to prepare their resident mothers for long-term success and careers after they leave the shelter.
After finishing the office, we moved to the Kid’s Club room. What a blessing to see miniature tables and chairs, each with a children’s bible in place for their weekly bible study. We decorated the children’s tree with ornaments they had made themselves: candy canes made out of plastic beads on wire, wreaths created with small green painted puzzle pieces, and popsicle stick Christmas trees. We could see each child’s individual personality displayed in their creations.
Some of the candy canes were perfectly patterned and traditional―two red beads, two white beads, two red beads, two white beads. Others were a rainbow of colors in no discernable order. Each child created by God to be unique with their own personalities, giftings, and callings.
We left the ministry that day full of the Christmas Spirit and a true appreciation of the incredible blessings we enjoy every day. We have fulfilling jobs, loving families, and safe homes. This ministry is helping its residents to enjoy those same blessings as they prepare them for their future.
So, add something to your very busy schedule this Christmas season. Choose a local ministry and volunteer. The Master of the Universe who came to Earth as a baby will use your service to remind you of the message of the season. Blessings and Merry Christmas!