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A guide to serving others this Christmas Season

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“For I was hungry and you gave me food…” -Matthew 25:35

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Donate food to local families.

Many elementary-aged children qualify for a free or reduced lunch through school support programs. Join the fight against hunger by taking care of those children over Christmas Break. You can sign up to adopt a Mark Twain Elementary family, receive a shopping list, and then bring a completed food basket to church.

 
 

Serve at a soup kitchen or food pantry.

There are several local soup kitchens and food pantries that provide for struggling individuals. Find one in your area, and sign up to serve with your family or small group.

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“…I was thirsty and you gave me drink…” -Matthew 25:35


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Donate to a clean water project.

Organizations like Charity: Water and The Water Project want to transform lives by providing clean water for people around the world who are thirsting. Consider making a clean water project your charity of choice this season.


Serve hot drinks at bus stops with your small group.

Grab some friends, pick up some coffee (any maybe some treats), and hang out at a local bus stop for an hour or two to help warm up people who are waiting.


Pay it forward in the drive-thru.

Practice generosity by picking up the tab for the order behind you in the drive-thru. You never know how a little act of kindness can impact someone in a big way.


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“…I was a stranger and you welcomed me…” -Matthew 25:35


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Extend a dinner invitation to someone Christ lays on your heart.

Pray for the courage and obedience to incite someone outside your normal circle to join your family or your friend group for a meal. You might make a new friend.


Serve MCREST families at the church.

During the week of December 9–16, our Warren Campus will be hosting displaced individuals and families for an entire week. Not only will we be providing shelter, but also showing love by providing and serving meals. There are over 200 time slots to sign up and serve, and we also need donations of food and nonperishable items.



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“…I was sick and you visited me…” -Matthew 25:36


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Visit residents in a nursing home.

Nursing home residents are susceptible to loneliness and depression, especially around Christmas time. Brighten someone’s day with a visit.


Donate to a family who is recovering from medical bills.

Medical bills are one of the leading causes of debt and distress in America. Any donation can help someone recovering from medical bills on their journey to financial freedom. Consider making an anonymous donation to a family you know is struggling.


Bring Christmas cheer to a children’s hospital.

Sadly, there are hundreds of families spending the holidays with loved ones in the hospital this year. Consider sending a cheerful card, or even visiting to hand out gifts or pray with someone.


Offer to pick up groceries or run errands for someone that is sick.

Is there anyone in your sphere that might not be able to leave the comfort of their home? Offer to help by by picking up groceries, or taking care of some Christmas shopping.




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“…I was in prison and you came to me.” -Matthew 25:36


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Write a Christmas card to an inmate.

For many prisoners, the Christmas season is incredibly difficult. Many have little to no contact with the outside world and no family to speak of. Something as simple as a Christmas card in the mail is a life-giving reminder for a prisoner that he or she is not forgotten.


Pray for the imprisoned.

Prayer is a simple but powerful way to intercede for those who are suffering. Take some time during your prayer time to pray for the men and women in prison to be able to hear the Good News and for God to do a work in their hearts.


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“But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for such belongs to the kingdom of heaven.” -Matthew 19:14


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Contribute to Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child is a partnership with Samaritan’s Purse that is changing the world by opening the doors for children across the globe to receive special Christmas gifts, many for the first time ever. All you have to do is fill an empty shoebox with small gifts and return it to our Warren Campus drop-off station (Ends Nov. 17th).


Sponsor a student for ESM Winter Retreat.

Many teens experience the Holy Spirit for the first time or even come to accept Jesus as their Savior are saved each year during Element Student Ministries’ annual Winter Retreat. Consider helping out a student by giving them the gift of a sponsorship to be able to join their peers at Winter Retreat this year. Email Pastor Matt Ciaramitaro to find out information about how to sponsor.


Support children with special needs.

Based in Sterling Heights, Play-Place for Autistic Children exists to provide of haven of hope for families of children with special needs. The Play Place has a wishlist of needed supplies available online, or you can make a monetary donation.


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“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” -James 1:27


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Provide Christmas gifts for children in the foster system.

Friends of Foster Kids provides Christmas for foster children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect and placed in temporary housing or shelters. FOFK fulfills each child’s wish list with new items and then works to ensure timely delivery for Christmas. You will receive a Child’s name and information, as well as specific items to purchase. Once you have their gifts, you will drop off at the Sterling Heights location.

 

Sponsor a child through Compassion International.

When you sponsor a child, you’ll be personally connected with a boy or girl who will know your name and treasure the thought that you care. There are hundreds of children around the world waiting for sponsorship.


Send your sponsor child a Special Gift

If you currently have a sponsor child, consider sending them a special gift this season. We’ve seen firsthand that sponsor children cherish every note and gift given- some collecting every letter in a tin can or shoebox to carry with them.  




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“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.” -Deuteronomy 10:18





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Reach out to a single parent you know.

Whether it’s help with food items for dinner or a gift that they are unable to afford, you can be a blessing to a single mother or father who needs it.


Offer to babysit for an evening.

Single parents have little to no time for themselves. Offer to watch the kids so the parent can have a moment to shop, see a friend, or just have some “me” time.


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“The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:31








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Bless a neighbor through an act of kindness.

Is there someone who could use help with raking leaves or shoveling snow? How about bringing cookies to a neighbor you’ve never met? A little bit of love can go a long way.


Meet a need for one of your small group members.

Give some extra thought this season to the lives placed around you. Surprise one of your friends by meeting a specific need.


Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know on a Sunday.

There are people around you that may be feeling disconnected, or not sure if  they belong. Be intentional to look outside of your normal circle, and see who God points out to you.




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“Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” -Psalm 82:4





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Shop Sak Saum or make a donation.

Sak Saum is a is a ministry based in Cambodia focused on the fight against human trafficking. For over a decade, Sak Saum has made it their mission to not only rescue, but rehabilitate through vocational skills. Their Training Center employs over 100 individuals, making the beautiful handmade products that are sold all over the world. Our Sak Saum boutique is located downstairs at the Warren Campus. Every purchase made directly supports those employees and their families.


Advocate for the unborn.

Based in Clinton Township, The Compassion Pregnancy Center exists to educate women on positive, pro-life options and advocate for their unborn children. You can make a difference by donating needed baby items, contributing financially, or volunteering. All donated items should be donated directly to the Compassion Pregnancy Center.

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“I said, ‘Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom.” -Job 32:7





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Take a senior citizen out to lunch.

Whether its a relative, or someone you know through church, carve some time out of the busy Holiday schedule to give some undivided attention to an elder.


Send a special note or card.

Whether it’s for a shut-in, a veteran or an elderly person that has impacted your life, take some time to write a word of encouragement.

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“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” -Matthew 28:19-20

Matthew 28:19–20







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Pray for or donate to missionaries in the field.

Our Woods Church family includes members who are currently living as missionaries. You can learn more about what they are doing, pray for them, and donate funds online.


Join a disaster relief team.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left damage of historic proportions. The unprecedented flooding has taken many lives, and forced over 500,000 people to be evacuated from their homes. In 2019, we are sending teams to Puerto Rico and Corpus Christi, Texas to assist with recovery.