“Scouting for Ideas,” New Era, Feb. 1998, 26
Don’t forget to pray. If you want what you’re doing to be truly worthwhile, ask for guidance as you choose, plan, and carry out your efforts.
Have a purpose. Ask “What do we want to have happen?” not just “What do we want to do?” Projects succeed best when they change hearts and help people feel needed or cared for.
Connect with people. Get to know those you’re serving. Building an access ramp for the physically challenged may be great, but building friendships with those who use it will make your service even sweeter.
Look for true needs. Ask for suggestions. Then adapt if needed. For example, you might be planning to build a trail when what is really needed is erosion control.
Allow enough time. Rushing a project through at the last minute can be tough. On some projects you may need months to work out approvals before you do the physical work.
Be realistic. Honestly evaluate your abilities and resources. Make sure you have all necessary approvals before you announce your project in public.
Get everyone involved. Divide tasks into small pieces. Make specific assignments to others; then follow up. Part of your goal should be helping others to serve too.
Stretch a little. Accomplish a meaningful objective through effort and organization. For example, just having people leave things on their doorstep doesn’t require much from you. Educating and involving them does.
Make a memory. What you build or do can serve as a pleasant reminder each time people pass by or reminisce. The memories will warm their hearts and yours. And remember, your ultimate goal is to become more Christlike through service to others, not just to earn recognition.
Here are some projects we’ve heard about.
Work with parents and police to provide emergency identification kits of children in your community. These include a photograph, fingerprints, a physical description, and basic information about each child.
Provide signs and benches for a walking/jogging/bicycling path, or signs that identify your community, such as entering and leaving signs.
Strip, clean, and re-paint fire hydrants.
Plant trees or grazing plants for deer, re-seed burned out areas, or work on erosion control with government agencies.
Construct and install a sports scoreboard for your community park.
Coordinate with existing agencies or programs to provide readers and recorded stories for the blind. Meet with recipients and discuss their needs and how to meet them.
Paint house numbers on curbs free of charge, using donated materials.
Work with an agency such as the Red Cross to carry out a successful blood drive.
Cooperate with community or service organization efforts to gather eyeglasses, medical supplies, seeds, personal hygiene kits, used sports equipment, or other needed materials for inner-city, third-world, or reservation areas. Educate your community about needs in those areas.
Recover and repair the worn hymnbooks in your chapel.
Help to organize a neighborhood watch or an earthquake preparedness plan.
Mobilize efforts to quickly cover over or remove graffiti. Law enforcement officials can work with you to educate citizens and businesses and may be able to provide paint, paint remover, and scrub brushes.