Several years ago we did an outreach event and we named it “Operation Turkey in a Box”. This event is a very easy event to plan and carry out with your youth group or small group. We did this event for a few years but until this year we have taken a break from this outreach event. How do we do it? Here ya go!
Plan on a date to carry out the event. We have done this the Sunday night before Thanksgiving. Sunday nights is our normal time for our Student Church so instead of staying in the 4 walls of the youth room that night we head out into the community.
Promote this date with both the parents and students.
I started this information gathering about 2 months before the event.
Ask your church members to share with you any families they know of that could benefit from having the complete list of groceries needed to provide a Thanksgiving meal. With the size of our group we gathered the contact info of ten families.
We supply each family with:
Turkey (at least a 10 pound bird)
2 cans of corn
2 cans of green beans
1 can of cranberry sauce
Package of dinner rolls
5 pounds of potatoes
You could divide up the list and have students bring in the supplies or, like us, use a sign up sheet. We use Sign Up Genius. This is a web based and is free. We then share the sign up with our church and people sign up for the groceries and bring them with them on Sunday morning to the church. Sign Up Genius is great because it will send them a reminder email two days before the event.
We have found that our church is excited to help with the groceries and our sign up sheet fills up within a matter of days.
We use this event as a leadership lab. We invite students who want to help pack the boxes and prep for the event to arrive early, about and hour, and organize the packing of the boxes. We do two boxes (paper boxes provided by folks in our church) per family. One contains the turkey and the other contains all the other ingredients. We let the students do this without us giving them any direction, this allows them to work together as a team.
We divide up our students with our adult volunteers into teams and divide up the delivery list. We have enough volunteers on our team for them to drive a handful of students to make deliveries. Students take the boxes to the door of the house and deliver the boxes letting the family know that we hope they have a great Thanksgiving and the students ask the family member if they have a specific prayer need. One of the students then says a prayer with the family.
We created a Thanksgiving card and printed it on yardstick. The students then sign the card. The card has a verse about being thankful and also some minimal contact information for our church. We put this card in the box with the canned goods or hand it to the family member when they open the door.
Then the teams all converge at McDonald’s after the deliveries and we eat together and have some time of fellowship and fun. I use this time to individually ask students about their experience on this event.
If you have any questions about planning this event please contact me.