Five Ideas for Local Youth Service Missions

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Connecting faith with good works


Just in case we didn’t get the picture when Jesus told the parable of the sheep and goats (Matthew 25), St. James makes it clear: Faith without works is dead faith and has no power to save (see James 2:26). Do yourself a favor and read the entire discourse in James 2:14-26.

So how do we connect faith and works for our teens?

While traveling across the country for a weeklong mission trip can be a life-changing experience, it can also be logistically difficult and cost-prohibitive. Additionally, our younger parishioners shouldn’t have to wait until middle school or high school to make an impact. To that end, consider some of these in-house and localized options. Each of them are inspired by Matthew 25:36-37.

1. Hospice care packages — Contact a local hospice center and ask if they have patients who would like to receive care packages. Ask for some guidance from the hospice center to determine package contents. In our experience, we were given first names and “favorites” of specific patients so the packages were more personal. As an added bonus, we then committed to pray for these patients by name.

2. Caroling for canned goods — Gather at a neighborhood home and head out with a wagon or a bunch of backpacks. At each house, briefly explain that you are there to share some Christmas cheer and collect canned-good donations for a local food pantry (we pass out flyers.) Sing a Christmas carol or two while they gather some food donations.

3. Cards for inmates — Does your parish have a prison ministry? Have your teens make
cards or write letters to the inmates. Ask the ministry for specific privacy guidelines before you start. We’ve heard some tear-jerking stories about the reactions of some of the recipients.

4. Colored pictures or cards for the homebound — Have your teens color pictures or make cards for homebound parishioners your Eucharistic Ministers visit.

5. Backpacks for the homeless — Fill backpacks with high-protein snacks, wipes, bottles of water, travel-size toiletries, and weather-appropriate items such as hand warmers, pairs of socks, hats, gloves, scarves, and feminine products (for women’s backpacks). Give them to shelters or encourage your families to keep one in their car to give to a homeless person they might otherwise pass by.

Becky Groth is a producer for ODB Films.

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