Find a retreat facility that is in need of some volunteer work. I know of some that will lower their rates if you will come and donate the labor. This is something that can help build your group and add a sense of ownership to a facility. If you live anywhere near Arkansas, check out www.gbgm-umc.org/outdoorministries for access to 3 campgrounds and a retreat facility. I did a work retreat at Mt Eagle last spring and we got to cut a new hiking trail that was a prayer walk. Those of us that went really bonded as we got down and dirty moving downed trees, raking, building steps and benches, etc. This can be great for a small group. Make sure that you find out what equipment you need to bring for the project and let your participants know what will be expected of them.
You need a paper sack, a big and bright gift bag, a large and rough rock, and a soft blanket. Ahead of time put the rock in the sack and the blanket in the gift bag.
First bring the rock out and ask the kids if this would be something good to give to someone. Ask if you could hold onto this, if you could sleep with this at night, etc. The rock is like “Hate” and it isn’t something nice to give someone or hold onto. Then bring out the blanket and ask the same questions. The blanket is like love. It can surround you and make you feel warm all over. It is nice to give to someone else (wrap it around someone’s shoulders as you say this) to let them know that you care. Jesus said that we are to love not only the people that we like, but also our enemies and pray for those who try to hurt us. Since Jesus died to save EVERYONE, then I think we should listen to Him!
If you have a large group (15 or more) who are raising funds, do a car wash challenge by dividing the group in two and having car washes at two different locations. Make sure that you have adults to help at both locations, enough equipment for both locations, and make sure that the locations are far enough away that you really have the possibility of receiving the most donations. This helps to maximize your message (people always want to know who you are and why you are raising money) and it doubles your car wash earnings. You can also check with some local businesses to see if they will match your funds.
This has been a top fundraiser and it also is an outreach event because it provides a friendly environment for visitors and friends. Most of the supplies are donated and the funds come from a chili cookoff and a dessert auction.
Ahead of time you will need to publicize two weeks in advance in the community and make sure that the information is in your church newsletter, bulletin, and is announced two weeks in advance. You will also need to have people sign-up to bring pots of chili and have the youth sign-up to bring the desserts. You will need to get small styrofoam bowls or cups, spoons, grated cheddar cheese, hot dogs, buns, condiments, crackers, and drinks (tea, lemonade, coffee). As always, if someone offers to bring any of those items, let them!
The day of the event you will need to set-up an area for the chili to be placed and have a jar or can in front of each chili location for people to place their money in as they vote. Make sure that you have plenty of powerstrips available because many people will show up with crock pots, slow cookers, or hot plates. You will also need to set up a display for the desserts. You can do a silent auction until half-time and/or live auction at half-time.
You will also want to have a place to watch the game. If you have comfy furniture at the church, use it (make sure that your workers don’t take over the couches and chairs, though). You might want a separate T.V. near the eating area so that people can sit at a table and eat chili while cheering for their team.
We have done this with a medium size congregation and cleared at least $500 – not bad for a Sunday afternoon!
We do this in the fall, and have people bring donated items in October. First, we contact area homeless shelters to see what they need, and then put out the request. We were hoping to get a box or two to each one, and ended up making several trips! Second, be specific in what you are requesting. One easy way to specify for items that will help those on the street in the winter is for people to thinking of what they would take camping. We had a ton of clothes come in, but only 1 box worth of dress clothes and a few summer items that we are going to take this spring. The dress clothes went to a battered women’s shelter.
Here is what we suggested:
sleeping bags, backpacks and duffle bags, coats (not fancy – that puts the homeless at risk for being robbed), shoes for walking, new underwear/socks, sweatshirts and longsleeve knit shirts, jeans and casual pants. We also accepted toiletries and food items. It is very important to find out what each shelter wants ahead of time, how items need to be delivered, and when someone can deliver the items. No two shelters operated alike, and they each had different needs. I know that the workers were surprised to see that we were actually bringing in needed items. The week we delivered the items, the weather had just turned cold in the evenings, and I know that the sleeping bags were quickly put to use!