One of our favorite things to do as a group was to visit Nursing Homes. We would go to a different Nursing Home every Sunday (We rotated through 4 different ones in our town and when there was a 5th Sunday, we would rotate through the other Nursing Homes in our area). We would sing songs, play games, do crafts, etc. For every holiday, we had a small gift for each resident (these were things like cards, hand lotion, a small craft item, etc. ~ It’s important to find out if anyone is on a special diet or if anyone has any allergies before choosing the gifts). At one of the Nursing Homes, each teen “adopted” a grandparent. This was someone they gave special attention to and sometimes would visit at other times besides when then group went.
Another great idea for teens is collecting things for people in need. There are several ways to do this. We worked with the Operation Christmas Child (Billy Graham’s program). We would collect shoeboxes full of gifts for children and we boxed them and sent them on to the headquarters. This is something your teens can do and it doesn’t have to cost them money. They can do a shoe box if they want but they can also just collect them from people in your church or community. The teens “job” is to get as many shoeboxes as they can together. Once they have collected the shoeboxes, they send them on and your teens have helped many children have a great Christmas. If you are interested in signing your youth group up or for more information, go to the website www.samaritanspurse.org. This is done in November every year.
Another great Missional Project for your teens is Crisis Care Kits. This is something that our youth group did for anyone who had lost everything due to floods, Hurricans, or other natural disasters. The large ziplock bag would contain basic things for a person (like shampoo, soap, hand towels, comb, a small stuffed toy, tissues, etc.). the teens would provide the bags and people could take a bag and fill it (you’d give them specific things to put in it) or they could donate a few things for a bag. When you have 12 bags, you ship them off to the collection site where they store them until a natural disaater happens. Many of or bags went to New Orleans and other places after “Katrina” hit. If you are interested in signing your youth group up or for more information, go to the website www.nazarenemissions.org. Although this is a program started in the Nazarene Church, you could turn it into something your church could do. The important thing is that people are helped in their time of need.
Every year our youth group “adopted” a family. If there wasn’t a family in need at our church, then we would go to a school and get information on a family (just ages of the children, sizes, ect. ~ never their names). and we would gather Christmas gifts for them. If we knew the family, the whole family recieved gifts. We always had the gifts dropped off unwrapped and the teens would wrap them. That was so we were sure the gifts were new and appropriate. The last thing you want a small child to open on Christmas Morning is an “adult” rated video game or something equally inappropriate. Then on Christmas Eve (or a day close to Christmas Eve) we would go Christmas Caroling and deliver the gifts. We would hold back a few gifts and give them to the parents from “Santa” for Christmas morning. We never put our names on the gifts (from was always left blank so the parents could give them to their children). Getting patted on the back wasn’t the goal. Giving a great Christmas was the goal. The gifts themselves were not as important as the giving.
For Thanksgiving, we did the same thing. We would “adopt” a family and provide a dinner for them (With all the food you normally have for Thanksgiving). Again we got donations and the teens would deliver it. Many times we ended up with enough food for the family to have many meals after Thanksgiving as well.
One of our favorite things to do was to take a group around the neighborhood offering our services. We would rake leaves in the fall, shovel sidewalks in the winter, clean flower beds in the spring and mow lawns and pull weeds in the summer. we tried to find families who couldn’t afford to do these thing or elderly families who struggled with these things. We never accepted payment for our work. If someone in our church needed painting done and our teens were old enough we would volunteer to help.
I think you get the idea. Basically, you see a need and try to fill that need while accepting nothing in return. Teaching young people the true meaning of giving is so rewarding.
As a thank you to the teens for their hard work, I would take them for pizza or plan a day of fun for them. The people you help should never reward the teens but it’s o.k. for you to show you appreciate all they do.