To Be a Volunteer at Church

Little Falls is my husband Ben’s hometown. We moved here in 1997 after living on the east coast for 42 years in a much larger area. I love this town! There is so much here for people to do. I know, I know, you are going to say what? Besides all the attractions here, including the Weyerhaeuser Museum where Ben and I work part-time, there is a lot to do at a church.

I joined Bethel Lutheran Church August 15, 1999 after Pastor Carl Larson became pastor. I wanted to attend a church that was close to our home and that I liked. When I joined, leaders of different groups approached me to join their quilting, visitation, and craft groups to name just a few. I hung back for a while just getting used to things…deciding whether I wanted to get involved. I asked questions of other members as to what they belonged to, just what goes on when you join these groups, etc.

I’m not sure who was first to announce this upcoming event, pastor for sure was one of them. Their fall rummage sale was coming up in October, and besides asking the congregation to donate any gently used items; they were asking for help to sort and organize what would be donated and to bake or those so talented, to make something.

When I lived in Baltimore, I was a member of St. Timothy’s Lutheran Church and was a greeter, usher, donated baked goods and clothing, but I never gave it a thought to jump in and help, always some excuse or another…too busy with work and other things. When pastor made the announcement of the rummage sale, it just seemed like something I should check out and just see what I could do to help. Surely I could find some time in between remodeling and working part-time.

The Bethel rummage sale is held twice a year, in May and October, and runs from Wednesday afternoon to Friday. Preparation for the rummage sale starts on Monday, arriving around 8 a.m. (some come earlier) hauling all the items from where they are stored to the respective areas where they would be sold. It’s a lot of walking back and forth but we’ve got this thing pretty well organized and most chip in to help get everything emptied out of the area in short order. A few stay behind to start on the sorting after large amounts are put in areas where they remain until sold. You can take a break anytime you want. We have nice lunches, homemade or bought to share. After the first time of helping, I joined in on the next event doing the same.

It all felt very strange to me the first time, but it didn’t take long for me to get really gung ho about helping. My mom always told me if you’re going to do a job, do it to the best of your ability. I took pride in sorting through the clothes, where I helped out the first time, but there are many areas to help organize – house-wares, holiday, books, toys, etc., or a little here or there. We have to check out each article’s general appearance, which includes spots, rips, lost buttons or broken zippers when handling the clothing. When we have questions as to whether an article of clothing should be sold, Dorie (the gal that heads this group) says, would you buy it to wear? I think Bethel has good rummage sales, others agree.

Some put in long days working until closing at 5 or close to it on Monday and Tuesday, but you don’t have to work that long, even an hour is always welcomed. By the second day things are well organized and you may have to wait around for more donors. Wednesday you hurry to sort anything that came in late the day before so all is ready for the opening that day. Some stay to help where needed, while people search through neat piles…well they were neat when we started. Volunteers straighten piles or help take things to check out. It all starts over on Thursday. Friday, anything that fits into a bag you get for a $1.00. Some volunteers work all week, others as long as they want. We have lots of fun and it feels good to be able to help people in the community find what they need and at very low prices.

Bethel also has a Christmas Bazaar in November and I help there as well with setting up and selling, same with the Lutefisk Meatball Supper in December. It’s fun to roll the meatballs and kibitz with the other volunteers. All volunteers are welcome for as many hours or days you want to help out. If you don’t want to roll meatballs, you can donate baked goods, help serve, clean off tables or help with cleaning up after closing. They always have something you can do.

Other places I volunteer at church are folding the newsletter once a month, along with the bulletins that day…easy volunteer job. The copy machine sorts the pages, all we do is fold, tape and attach address labels. We also volunteer for any other large mailings that need to be done.

Being a Greeter/Usher during service is something I help with. My name is on a list and we take turns. I usually partner with my friend Ardys. Meals on Wheels, is another way to help out. I join with my friend Ardys to deliver while Ben drives us to our destinations on the northeast side of Little Falls. This happens every couple months and, depending on how many people you have on your list, doesn’t take more than an hour and a half. It’s very rewarding to be part of delivering these much appreciated meals. Plus, we get to shop or go to lunch after returning the insulated bags to the kitchen of the Buckman Apartments in downtown Little Falls.

I volunteer along with Ardys to bake/buy goodies for fellowship time after church service or just help with serving. A cup of coffee, milk, juice and snacks go nicely with conversations.

We’re cataloguing the church’s old records on Tuesday mornings to present to the congregation for approval to donate to the Weyerhaeuser Museum for safe keeping.

There are other areas in the church to volunteer and I’ve done some of these…Valentine’s party at Pine Grove Manor, birthday party at the Lutheran Home, Altar Guild, giving someone a ride to/from church, delivering envelopes, visiting homebound members, serve as Lector, delivering poinsettias at Christmastime and more. How do you do this? Just offer to do something, it’s a good feeling…and a big help to others.

-Ali S.

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