Upon returning home from Bolivia, I jumped on an opportunity to facilitate a mission trip with another organization.  During the last week of July, I was privileged to serve alongside teenagers at some pretty awesome service sites.  Not only did we serve in the community, but we also took time to process the trip together.  My coworker and I helped guide the youth participants to reflect on each day to discover what they learned and where they saw the Lord working.  As I sat and listened to the group talk about their day, I was struck by one young girl’s reflection.

That day, we volunteered at two different service sites.  In the morning, we served at a Habitat for Humanity Restore, a reuse store operated by a local Habitat for Humanity organization.  This young girl spent her morning sorting through donated clothes at the Restore.  As she sifted through bags, she laughed while looking at the variety of fashion and chatted with another volunteer.  There were piles and piles of bags of donated clothes.  The pile towards the front were all clothes that had been donated within the last day.  This young girl was amazed by the amount of clothes in front of her.

In the afternoon, we served at a local food bank, where the girl helped clean the warehouse, unpack boxes of food items to stock the shelves, and pack food boxes to be given out to the community the next day.  While at the food bank, she learned that during a normal week, the food bank distributes food to around 300 families.  However, right now during the pandemic, they are distributing to close to 600 families a week.  One of the main reasons families receive food from this food bank is because someone in their household has lost their job and they can no longer afford food.  The number of people who have lost their jobs during the pandemic has been evident by the amount of families who currently are coming to the food bank.

After this full day of service, this young girl’s perspective was changed; her eyes were opened to the current situation and generosity that is present in her home town.  She mentioned the large pile of clothes and said, “I didn’t know so many people in my community donate that much.”  She was inspired to see how people in her community are giving back by donating their unused or unwanted items.  She then continued to talk about the food bank and said, “Volunteering at the food bank allowed me to actually see how COVID has affected my community.  For the past few weeks, I have been stuck in my bedroom and all I have known is what I see on the TV, but now I know more than what I hear in the news.”  Her perspective on the pandemic changed after seeing first-hand the effects it has had on her community.

When our world becomes fogged by biased news and our heart becomes numb to the situation around us, it is important to reach out and do something new so that our eyes may be opened like this young girl’s.  Have you felt the generosity and compassion present during this time of pandemic or seen the true effects of COVID in your own community during this time?  Non-profits in your community need your help to minister to the most vulnerable, and  I encourage you to get out and volunteer, if you’re able.  Check out the local Habitat for Humanity Restore or food bank for a start.  You may be surprised by how the Lord awakens the emotions and passions in your heart.