The Directory for Catechesis reminds us that the family “is indeed a Christian education more witnessed to than taught, more occasional than systematic, more ongoing and daily than structured into periods.” (227) Lent is a perfect time for parents to give witness to their children of the importance of serving others.
During Lent, we make efforts to pray, fast, and give alms. Almsgiving is an activity that the whole family can participate in, because it involves more than just writing a check to a charity or dropping money in a basket. There are a variety of ways that a family can work together to provide for the needs of others. Here are just a few suggestions.
- Together, go through everyone’s drawers and closets, and gather clothes that can be donated to a clothing drive.
- Go to the supermarket together, and provide each family member with his or her own shopping list of non-perishable items to gather for purchase and donation to a food pantry or food drive.
- For families with very young children, purchase a supply of travel-size sundries, and gather as a family to create care bags for those who are homeless. Then arrange to have the bags delivered by an organization that ministers to the homeless.
- For larger families, volunteer to organize a parish car wash to raise money for a charitable cause.
- For families with older children, volunteer as a family at a shelter, food pantry, or soup kitchen.
- Gather together with a few other families for a neighborhood clean-up, gathering trash and litter and beautifying public spaces. Likewise, contact local forest preserve authorities to inquire about “adopt-a-site” litter cleanups.
- Contact a nursing home to ask if families are welcome to visit the elderly and, if so, visit and talk, play games, or otherwise engage the residents.
- Volunteer to prepare and serve a meal at a local Ronald McDonald House.
- As a family, offer to do the yardwork for an elderly neighbor.
- Coordinate a collection of used books in your neighborhood, and donate them to your local school or library.
- Organize a neighborhood garage sale, and donate the proceeds to a local charity.
What other family-friendly service ideas can you suggest? Share below!