Saturday, December 13, 2008

His Helping Hands

Today I went to volunteer at a place called His Helping Hands. It is a ministry of a church here in town that we attend sometimes (we actually go to two different churches--long story). Anyways, they take donations of household goods and clothing (& likely other things, I don't know) and give them to people in the community that need these things.

I have been wanting to find a way to volunteer, but with children at home, it's hard to find the time. I have often felt badly when I see people begging on the side of the road because as a Christian, you know you are supposed to help people, but in this day and age, you can't be sure that if you stopped to help someone that they wouldn't rob or kill you. And if you give that guy outside the gas station some money, will he use it to buy food or alcohol and drugs? My motive today might not be as totally selfless as it should have been. This was part of a self-prescribed therapy, sanctioned by my counselor. For one, I thought maybe if I helped someone else, it would make me feel better and take my mind off myself. If I see someone who is in even worse shape than I am, then maybe it would give me some perspective. And in some ways, I think maybe I tend to look down on people. I don't mean to and I have had at least one trusted person tell me that I have been too hard on myself. I don't know if that is true or not. Only I know what is in my heart and sometimes what I see disappoints me.

Anyways, I am a shy person. I am uncomfortable talking to strangers and often am not sure what to say. I do much better with the written word. I often get tongue-tied when speaking to someone verbally. Maybe that's why I prefer email to phone calls. I thought I would be doing something more behind the scenes, like hanging up clothing or stocking toy tables. There were about 100 volunteers, maybe more. They asked for volunteers to be greeters when the people first came in the door and I thought that was not for me because that would definitely be a talking-to-strangers kind of thing. Besides, they immediately had plenty of volunteers. The next thing was to help in the toy selection process, and again they immediately had enough volunteers. Same thing with the people helping out with the clothing selection. I hung back and thought I would just take what was leftover. Well, what was leftover was a position termed "expediter". The expediters would take the person or family after they were registered and walk them through the entire process! This was more interaction than any of the other jobs! YIKES! What was I doing?

I think God allowed this to take me out of my comfort zone. I ended up taking four women through the process over the course of the morning. They were all nice and easy for me to talk to. Two were especially sweet and I felt so good to be able to help them. They were so appreciative and as they left, I wished them a Merry Christmas and said, "God bless you," and hugged them. After they were gone, I prayed for them. The last lady I assisted had her two children with her: a four-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl. The little girl kept hugging me. I had overheard the girl saying what she had asked Santa Claus for and I was able to find something similar and we were able to hide it from her so she will have a nice surprise on Christmas morning. Each family was able to get bags of clothing, pick out used toys for their children and received a new toy for each of their children, as well as a devotional book and a $30 WalMart gift card. People had lined up early for this. The second group I took through said they had come at 6:40am, so there's no telling how early the first ones had been there!

After the holidays, I think I'd like to volunteer there once or twice a month. I had worked late last night and had to get up early for this, so I was tired, but I really enjoyed doing it and am so glad that I did.

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