Josh Whitson and members of Reality Church didn’t spend her Sunday morning at church services.
Instead, they spent Sunday morning and the rest of the weekend serving the community through the church’s third annual Big Live event.
“We want our community to be a better place because we’re here. We want to be a giver to the community and not a taker,” said Roger Graber, lifegroup and community pastor of Reality Church, formerly Shadow Lake Community Church.
The event had volunteer opportunities split over Oct. 11, Oct. 12 and Oct. 13
Volunteers served in Papillion, Bellevue and Omaha. Services ranged from landscaping at Walnut Creek Recreation Center to playing board games with residents of the Eastern Nebraska Veterans Home.
Initially, Graber said they wanted to fill 300 spots. They ended up filling 600 spots with about 400 volunteers.
“We actually had to add projects,” Graber said. “The response has been incredible.”
In its first year, church members helped one elderly woman. More than 100 volunteers painted her house, put in a new fence, repaired her garage and cleaned out her yard.
“It was for one person but it was a massive project,” Graber said.
Last year the Papillion-based church sent volunteers to Omaha ministries such as the Hope Center.
This year, they decided to localize their efforts.
“We wanted to be more intentional about making sure we were doing projects in our immediate backyard,” Graber said.
Whitson started volunteering early on Sunday. He helped set up for the Papillion Fire Department’s annual Community Appreciation Breakfast.
Starting at 6:30 a.m., volunteers set up tables and put out place mats, syrup and butter. Throughout the breakfast, volunteers cleaned tables and served beverages.
“It’s having people just do random acts of kindness,” Whitson said. “It’s not preaching. It’s just saying, ‘Let me make your day a little bit easier.’”
Many of the weekend’s volunteer opportunities were family-friendly.
Tom Clements volunteered with his wife, Lindsay, and their two children, Isaac, 4, and Emma, 2.
The Clements family helped repackage diapers at Essential Pregnancy Services in Bellevue.
Big Live is a way to introduce members to serving the community.
“It’s a good way to kick off service,” said volunteer Cori Botts. “You can do this and then serving opportunities follow.”
Graber hopes the event gets people to continue serving the community.
“We’re trying to develop a lifestyle of serving others,” Graber said. “This is not the destination. Our goal isn’t to have people serve one time a year. Our goal is to introduce people to serving at the Big Live and try to encourage them to continue that throughout the year.”
Serving in the community was a way to act as the church, said volunteer Season Bolin.
“Since we’re a community church, we try to get out there,” Bolin said. “We’re not just closed up indoors.