On March 1, 2018, The Shepherd’s House started a non-profit community outreach program called Beds for Kids. As of April 1, 2020, our congregation along with community members have delivered 229 beds to kids who were sleeping on the floor, on the couch, on a blow-up mattress, or with a parent. Each child receives a brand new twin size bed frame, box spring, mattress, and mattress pad. The volunteers make each bed with brand new sheets, comforters and a pillow, too!
Every single bed delivery has left lasting impressions on us as individuals and as a church family. As individuals, we are driven to do more to sacrifice for those in need. As a church family we have experienced friendship evangelism that has knit us together tightly to do God’s work in our community as one force. We feel the Holy Spirit working in us, working in our church, and working in our community. This community service has done more than just provide beds to children who need them – it’s opened the doors for us to evangelize to these families in unique ways!
The children we meet on the bed deliveries have many, many unmet needs. Most of the families rely on the kindness of strangers to help meet their children’s needs. Many families go without being supplied basic essentials regularly. We had to do something to help these children.
We decided to go big and throw a huge Christmas party! There was a lot of planning, logistics, and team work that went into planning this “Christmas for Kids” event. First, we wanted to know what the families needed. Our first step was to send a letter to every family who had received a bed, with the request to complete an enclosed form outlining their specific requests, which we hoped would allow us to better meet their needs.
The letters poured in! We knew right away that God was about to bless us and our community in a big way. We couldn’t wait to see how everything unfolded! We organized the letters so families could ‘adopt’ a family. Our church family supported these kids in a HUGE way by adopting a majority of the families. We also had friends, family members, and co-workers adopting families, too.
While people were shopping and wrapping for the families they adopted, we were busy getting things ready for the “Christmas for Kids” event. Tables were set up, decorations were hung, Christmas music was prepared, and volunteers were ready to go. Each family would sign in at the front door to get their checklist of things to do in the gym, which included: 1) Pick up a gift bag packed with toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, toys, Little Friends, Primary Treasures, fruit, and candy, 2) Pick out their stocking stuffers from a table filled with donated toys, 3) Pick up their huge piles of wrapped Christmas presents, 4) Pick up brand new pillows and a set of sheets, 5) Pick out hygiene items, 6) Decorate sugar cookies to take home, 7) Make a Christmas craft, 8) Enter a coloring contest (prizes were given), and 9) Eat pizza and Christmas cookies! As a grand finale, children’s names were drawn for additional big prizes such as tickets to the water park, a camera, and $25 gift cards to Walmart. And each family was given a gift bag with a devotional for daily reading and information for how to connect with our church in the future.
We wanted to make sure every single family was met with smiling faces. We had a greeter at the door, and volunteers from the church met with the families to show them around the gym and get to know the families more. Those faces became familiar to the families as people they could ask questions of or someone they could eat their pizza and cookies with. Praise the Lord that our church and community showed up in such a big way to make these families feel welcome. From details like helping hang coats, to serving hot chocolate and pizza, and giving hugs – we showed love and served these families as God has asked us to do!
I cannot even put into words the insurmountable joy that each of us felt that night! Our gym was packed, just as we prayed it would be. Our children were helping other children, our church members helped every single step of the way, and our volunteers from the community were already recruiting help and looking forward to our next Christmas for Kids event!
When we share experiences from the homes we’ve been in, we are selective with what we share with the public in an effort to protect privacy. We don’t want the families to feel shame. At the same time, we want the people who are supporting this ministry with their time and money to know that this program is effective and it’s working in more ways than we ever expected! When we received the letters back from the families we were overcome with emotion. These children were asking for haircuts, feminine hygiene supplies, bus passes, winter clothing, clothes, tennis shoes, socks, soap, shampoo, deodorant and razors along with things to hang on their bedroom walls, a football, a basketball, and books. These children just want their needs met. They want to be just like other kids! We set out to meet as many needs as we possibly could. This effort was so greatly blessed, that we were able to meet the needs of 121 children for all 35 families that responded. For families who couldn’t afford to purchase everything on the list, one of the items they couldn’t afford would just show up as extra so we could use it toward that family!
If you are reading this and you feel a void or your church family is struggling to find common ground, pray that the Lord leads you in a ministry to reach out to your community. And then watch as God works in really big ways!
A church family that prays together and works together – stays together!