Christine Rankins: “I put actions behind my heart’s desire to make a difference and you can too!”

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Many of us make New Year resolutions and most of them center around internal goals for ourselves or our families. The New Year is a wonderful time for “course correction” in our life trajectory, without a doubt. Non-profit Director and author, Christine Rankins, urges us to expand our circle of concern to include those in our own community that are in need.

Rankins’ book, “How to organize a day of giving in your community or a community in need,” is a step-by-step guide that lives up to its title. It is also a powerful testimony of a single mother who follows her heart and what she believes is God’s leading , blazing trails as she does so.

She says, “The book is about the three ministries that God birthed in me. The first— working with homeless shelters, was a hard transition for me in the beginning. I am and always have been a professional woman. I had never seen the faces of homeless people up close or interacted with them. But God had a plan. I kept seeing this one ad in the “Indianapolis Star” about feeding the homeless; everyday on breaks it would just be staring at me. I decided to ask co-workers if they would donate with me. They did and we fed many homeless people that holiday from our collections. If you can get people to share your enthusiasm and feel your servant spirit, it will become contagious!”

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It was this first ministry that led to the third ministry of a food pantry. In between was the former avionics lead mechanic with a crew (Rankins), going back to school to get her nursing degree so that she could have a stronger nursing home ministry and work closer with the elderly in her care.

“All of this is the fruit of volunteering,” she says.

Rankins is a member of Cambridge Who’s Who and her three award winning ministries still currently operate under the umbrella of her former church, Bethel Family Worship Center (BFWC). Rankins moved and currently attends Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, Ill.

Rankins says, “The “Day of Giving” involves collecting items such as: Clothing for men (especially), women, and children. They will need shoes, boots, belts, coats, socks, gloves, hats, slacks, dresses, long-sleeve shirts, purses, etc. Personal hygiene products for men, women, and children: toothpaste, deodorant, facecloth, toothbrushes, feminine hygiene products, soap, and books for children. These items can be packed together and marked for men, women, or children, at each table.  Additional items suggested are baby items: Formula, baby oil, lotion, diapers, diaper’s wipes.”

She continues, “As you receive donations, especially monetary donations, you will need someone who is responsible and organized to keep up with the donations given and make sure you are staying within your budget. My pastor established an account for the ministry in the church at the time. Accountability is so important for people to be able to trust us.”

“Anyone can organize “A Day of Giving,” even nine-year-olds, by taking clothes, shoes, canned goods, boxed or bag foods and books, and organizing a “Day” with family and friends to give to kids in a needy community. It doesn’t matter if it is a big production, you just have  to be faithful stewards with what the Lord gives you. Parents can supply the Kool-aid, sodas, water, hot dogs, chips, and music; and whatever clothes, shoes, etc., are left over, can be donated to a homeless shelter with kids.” says Rankins.

She follows with, “Once you have the date, time and place nailed down, the rest comes down to organizing and delegating. This is the formula regardless of the size of the project.”

She writes:

 “ Assign Responsibilities to Team Leads. For each assignment, there should be a team lead, and each team’s lead will have a crew. Here is where good communication is very important. You must stay focused! You are as strong as your weakest link, but do not get discouraged; you cannot fail with God on your side, and having a good attitude really does go a long way. Show your faith through works! Remember, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!”

So, young or old, rich or poor, here is what we can do as a community to have “A Day of Giving,” without giving Rankins’ entire book away:

1. Get your venue, date and time established.

2. Establish key people or “Leads” to help recruit their volunteer teams and be in charge of different activities and item categories of donations. One of the categories for this that Rankins recommends is a “Compassion Crew.” These are the people that help and care for/minister to guests during the event.

3. Consider Food donations to serve or simply accept food donations to be given to our local pantry. Rankins always gets her “Day of Giving” catering donated but in the beginning she and her church ladies cooked.

4. Make the program for the day. Will there be singing or another form of entertainment for the guests?

5. Contact shelters and ministries that know of need to invite to the event.

This is a quick scan of a subject that is thoroughly explained in her book “How to organize a day of giving in your community or a community in need.” It even goes as far as giving “to-do” lists from two months prior to the “Day.”

Rankins says, “Make it a family affair. When I talk to people about signing up for the “Day of Giving,” I suggest they bring their whole family to be part of this. They usually say, “I never thought of doing that,” and I say, “That is why I’m here, to help you understand how you and your whole family can help.” Many volunteers who have brought their families, have made it an annual “Day of Giving.”

She continues, “This can be hard work, but when you get going, you will soon realize how grateful you are to have the opportunity to make a difference in so many people’s lives. You will be blessed for your blessings.”

Rankins welcome response or questions on her book at her blog: