By Lauren Eisleben
For the past six years, around this time, all three kids in our family will start asking, “When is ForColumbia?” And, “Do we get to help sort and pass out T-shirts again?”
ForColumbia’s annual day of service has become a highly anticipated event on our family calendar, much like a vacation or a holiday.
My husband and I have three girls, ages 12, 11, and 7-3/4. When they were six and under, they were serving by being a part of the provided childcare. They planted flower pots for Woodhaven or assembled personal hygiene kits for the homeless population in Columbia.
One of our favorite family memories is playing games with the residents at Oak Tower, a senior independent living facility. We learned how to play Racko that night. As a result, we now own and frequently play that game.
I asked the girls why we participate in ForColumbia as a family. Here’s what they said.
Zoey: We like to serve our community.
Our family is served by the organizations, businesses, and fellow citizens of Columbia each and every day. We eat at local restaurants, we are provided education, and we are taken care of by City of Columbia workers.
We serve because we are served.
On April 30th, our family will have a broadened view of our city and the people in it. We’ll get that by washing windows, spreading mulch, and painting a classroom. Likewise, we will serve alongside faces we’ve never met, hear life stories of those who live in a different part of Columbia than us, and help those who may have never asked for it.
“I like helping,” said my 12-year-old. “That’s why I like doing ForColumbia.”
Ali: We care about people.
“Why do we care about people, Ali?” I asked.
“Because they care about us,” she answered.
Isn’t this the very essence of serving? We care because we’re cared for.
And Jesus cares for us…no strings attached. Likewise, we serve those around us, no strings attached.
I don’t know about you, but if I ask my kids to help me clean my house, I’m usually met with some sort of grumbling followed by a resigned, “Okay…”
On April 30th, though, my kids will be cleaning someone else’s house (a complete stranger). They will enthusiastically and joyfully clean that person’s house as if it’s their favorite activity of the day.
I need my kids to have this type of experience because it expands their world wider than our house and our family. The world is bigger than them, and ForColumbia helps us care for other people in a unique and immersive way. (And maybe one day, they’ll learn to clean our house with the same enthusiastic attitude.)
Emma: It’s fun!
If you’ve never served before, our family needs you to know it is fun!
For us, the fun starts the week before when we volunteer to sort all the volunteer T-shirts and get each partner church’s box ready to pick up. On that night, we eat pizza and try and perfect our counting skills.
But even more, we hear the names of other churches beside ours, over and over, and our excitement for April 30th grows by the minute.
Emma looks forward to digging in the dirt and playing with some other of our small group kids as they take breaks.
Ali likes hanging with the adults, organizing, making community spaces more functional for their use.
This year, Zoey is excited to either serve on a project with her middle school group or maybe return the gift of serving in one of the childcare rooms on Saturday morning.
Life comes full-circle, before we even realize it.
Has your family participated in ForColumbia’s day of service before? If you’re on the fence, I’d love to tell you more about our experience and answer any questions you might have. Just click here and I’ll get back to you quickly.
Maybe you’re like us and this is the sixth year your family has served together. I encourage you to ask each of your family members to remind each other why ForColumbia makes it on your calendar each year.
It’s great to continually remind each other of the good things God has given us so we can continue to give these gifts to those around us. See you on April 30th!
Registration Now Open
Join us as we set about loving and serving others!
- You can sign up here: https://forcolumbia.com/volunteer/
Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV) The Great Commandment
But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”