During the Thanksgiving season there is, quite naturally, a big focus on gratitude. Kids are often encouraged to verbalize their thankfulness in a variety of ways. Children’s Bible teachers can reinforce this message by challenging students to show gratitude with generosity and service.
Out of gratitude for God’s provision, we can teach children to share with the poor (or poor in spirit). In thankfulness for the Lord’s humility and sacrifice, we can instruct them to serve others with humility and sacrifice. In 2 Corinthians 9:12, we read that our service inspires many acts of thanksgiving to God.
Bible classes for kids offer the perfect opportunity to display our gratitude in this way. Although there are countless ways to practice service and show generosity, this article will focus on packing “Care Kits” for a homeless center. These care kits consist of a few travel-sized hygiene items in a small cellophane bag with a personal note of encouragement. This simple service project can be easy if you take it step by step.
Research Your Recipient
The first step to “packing gratitude” is choosing a recipient and appropriate gifts. There is no shortage of ways to bless people in need of blessing. Who could benefit from your generosity and service? Use the internet to find a homeless center in your area. If you are unable to find one, consider mailing the care package to a different city. Alternatively, you could donate relevant gifts to a pregnancy care center, nursing home, soldiers in the military, or a women’s shelter. Be sure to note if there are any specific items the organization needs or cannot accept.
Collecting donations is the next step. Invite parents to participate in this service project. Print and photocopy an explanation of the service project with a request for donations of inexpensive items such as travel-sized toothpaste, shampoo, and lotion. Put out a bucket for donated items and a small bank for cash donations so that you can shop for busy parents. Once you have enough donations, children can sort the items into piles and fill the bags.
Add a Personal Touch
Then it is time to add a personal touch. Practical items show God cares about the recipients’ physical needs, but they have emotional needs as well. That is why it is important to include an encouraging note. Older children can write uplifting Bible verses on slips of paper to include in each bag. Younger children may need to write short phrases like “God loves you.” Another idea would be to bring rubber stamps or stickers to decorate preprinted Bible verses. Once the notes have been added to the bags, instruct the students to close it with a gift ribbon, twist tie, or raffia.
Emphasize the Reason
Finish the class service project with a prayer of thanks to God for the provisions we have received. Ask the Lord to bless the hearts of the recipients with these small gifts. Then ask your students how they feel after they have finished. When they tell you how fun it was to serve, remind them that Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than receive.” After you have dropped off or mailed the donated care kits, there is only one thing left to do! And that is to give yourself a pat on the back for teaching children that giving and serving expresses gratitude in a fun and meaningful way.
You can see a list of all of the articles Kim has written on Sunday School Zone.