Teenagers LOVE Valentines day. They love to give valentines and they love to receive valentines. But for some students, being single on Valentine’s day can be an embarrassing and traumatic experience. The single students can feel left out when it comes to their peers’ social media postings of massive teddy bears and carnations. Some begin to think that they are not loved if they do not receive gifts. Depending on your youth group, this may be a great time of the year to discuss healthy relationships and teen-dating. But if you are looking for a different approach on addressing the holiday of hearts, here are five suggestions on how your group can share love with people who would LOVE to receive it.
1. Nursing Home and Shut-ins
Youth have the ability to provide a source of energy to those who are tired and weak. If time and resources are available, then consider bringing sugar cookies to the local nursing home or church shut-ins. Bring icing and sprinkles so that your students can help the patients decorate the cookies. This is a fun opportunity for the elderly to work on hand dexterity and/or students can practice their communication skills. If your group cannot make a personal visit to a home then mail a bulk of cards instead. Be sure to encourage the youth to write in large bold letters so that the patients can read the affectionate words.
I know this is hard to believe, but some teenagers believe that little elves come out at night and pick up the mess they have left behind all day. Arrange for your students to clean a portion of your facilities to help take the load off of your church custodians. If time is an issue then pick a specific task like wiping down all the door handles with anti-bacterial wipes. You will be surprised how many door handles their are in your church. The rest of your time together can be spent making cards for your paid or volunteer custodian(s), and you can leave them around the church for them to find.
3. School Lunch Servers
Have your students ever served at a soup kitchen or community center? Have your students ever helped serve at any of your church’s luncheons or dinners? If so, this is a great reference to the time and work that is involved in preparing and serving a meal to a mass amount of people. When my students learned what time their school chefs arrived to start making meals for hundreds, sometimes thousand of students, their reviews of the food significantly increased. Bake and decorate cupcakes as a group to send home with students so that they can bring it to their school lunch servers the next day. Have them attach a pre-made card that creatively shows their appreciation for the hard work and love that the lunch servers incorporate in every meal.
4. Bank Tellers
Although most students do not necessarily have a vast experience with drive-thru bank tellers, I’m sure they can all remember receiving lollipops or treats from the canister that appeared from an unseen alien space ship (sssshhhhhhhhhhhthunk). I mean where else would the tube go?! Did you know that the average transactions a bank teller has a day is between 80 to 100? And considering that most people use the drive-thru because they are in a hurry, that means that bank tellers can encounter up to 100 busy people a day concerning something as sensitive as money! I can only imagine the amount of impatient customers they face a day. Arrange for a convoy of cars filled with your students to swamp a local bank or credit union with kisses–chocolate kisses. Let the kids place cards or wrapped treats in the canisters to send to the alien bank tellers. Your students will enjoy using the canisters and the trip can be quick!
5. Mail Carriers
Even mail men and women love to receive mail! Depending on your area and the carrier’s route, the average miles a postal worker can walk a day is ten! Ten miles carrying mail during crazy weather conditions. And let’s not forget about the possible encounters with unhappy furry pets. Have your students write out ten (one for each mile the postal worker walks) important letters/packages they or their family have received in the mail. For example, birthday cards, acceptance letters, news from family members in the military, Christmas cards, family birth announcements, family wedding invitations, and more. Finish the card by thanking your carrier for delivering such great news! Be sure the students find a way to separate this card from other possible out-going mail. Have them use bright paper and either tape the note down or have it clipped to the mail box in a different way.
Valentines can be a perfect opportunity to teach your students how to love their neighbors. Take the focus off of teen relationships for a bit and teach them what Christ has to say about love. It may not seem exciting to them at first, but I’ve never encountered a student who didn’t eventually enjoy sharing love to others. Be creative and encourage your students to share love with everyone, not just their current crush.
Photo courtesy of @RabbitEarJones