BY JEN NOELLE, GRACE ATTENDER
Ever since I was a little girl, my family has been involved in service. Intermixed in my memories of vacations and celebrations and lazy summer days are recollections of visiting an elderly couple in their home, collecting food for our local pantry, and going on mission trips. Serving wasn’t just something we talked about or learned about at church. It was part of our daily lives, a piece of my own puzzle that has shaped the person I am and the family I am now raising.
A few weeks ago, the 2nd– 8th grade students at Grace Fishers had the opportunity to serve when they packed 200 backpacks for the Back to School Blast. As they walked through the line, older paired with younger, they weren’t simply throwing supplies into a bag or executing a task that needed to be completed. They were becoming servants, tangibly working to show others the love of Christ.
Then, each of them received a card with the name of a child who would be receiving one of the backpacks. The card provided a little information as well as a prayer request. It was amazing to see the students from Grace relate to the students from the near east side of Indianapolis. They learned that the children whose backpacks they had just assembled loved art, collected Pokemon cards, made slime and worried about the health of their grandparents. They saw the similarities instead of the differences.
Serving others, particularly those whose demographics don’t match your own, breaks down barriers. I’ve experienced this around a table at the Wheeler Center for Women and Children, in the parking lot of the Grace Care Center, and throughout a Safe Families placement. And I saw it while praying over backpacks at Grace Fishers.
The filled backpacks were distributed at Shepherd Community Center two weeks later, and as much as those backpacks are part of the puzzle to break the chains of poverty, they are also part of the students who assembled them. They represent pieces of service, acceptance and compassion, of tangibly showing the love of Jesus to another. And if those values are given the opportunity to grow and flourish, they will forever shape the bigger picture – both in the lives of these kids and in the Kingdom.
Serve with Your Family
Our Back to School Blast event is over for this year, but there are other great ways to serve with your family throughout the year! Visit the Local Outreach and Care Center pages for more information.
Every Monday and Tuesday 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Grace Church – 146th Street
The Care Center has family-friendly opportunities on both Monday and Tuesday nights. Families might work together on projects such as sorting the Green Bag donations, sorting donations from local grocery stores, or preparing items to go into the choice food pantry. The shift is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. each night.
Age Requirement: Age 9 and above
Circle City Relief
Every Sunday 12:30 – 2:30 p.m.
IPS 60 Parking Lot, 3330 N. Pennsylvania St. Indianapolis
Join the team to distribute pizzas and supplies, pray, and build relationships with the people in the community. CCR provides food, resources and hope every week in the inner-city.
Age Requirement: All Ages Welcome
Hands of Hope – Bags of Hope
Arrange with a Hands of Hope Representative
Put together Bags for Hope containing specific toiletry items that will be paired with duffle bags for children when they first enter foster care. 23,000 children are currently in foster care in Indiana. When a child is removed from their home they are given trash bags for their personal items and have no toiletry items. Help change this for some kids. Your family will purchase the toiletry items and gallon-size Ziploc bags, then pack them together.
Wheeler Center for Women and Children
Third Sunday of Every Month 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Wheeler Center for Women and Children, 3208 E. Michigan St. Indianapolis
Spend time with the women and children staying at Wheeler by serving snacks, working on crafts, playing games with kids and building relationships during our monthly recreation time. CWC provides shelter, food, clothing and life skills to homeless women and children in Indianapolis.
Age Requirement: All Ages Welcome
Wheeler Men’s Mission – Serve Sunday Meal
Every Sunday 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Wheeler Men’s Shelter, 520 E. Market Street Indianapolis
Join us on Sunday afternoon to serve a dinner and build relationships with the men staying at Wheeler. Your family will help prepare plates of food, deliver trays and drinks, take tickets and interact with the men. Wheeler Men’s Mission provides shelter, food, and clothing to homeless men in Indianapolis.
Age Requirement: Age 8 and above