I love to perform acts of service, and I really like to do it when the act is easy, and it speaks to me on a resonant and feeling level. I constantly peruse the Internet for ideas, and I see a lot of classics like taking up garbage cans for your neighbor, baking cookies and giving them to friends, and paying for the car behind you when you go through a drive-through for food or drink. Don’t get me wrong, I love the classics, but when someone comes up with a clever idea that matches our unique world today, I get really excited.
I was looking through some blogs and sites for an easy way to be a secret service agent. (Okay, it’s a little over the top, but it makes service even more fun!) I saw a few ideas that I liked, but they were a little involved to complete in one afternoon. I was about to go with a favorite standby (taping coins to vending machines) when I came across a blog
that suggested taping a bag of microwave popcorn to a Redbox movie dispenser. I almost screamed in delight because really, how much simpler can you get? Okay, someone else could be doing the service project, and that would be easier, but then I would miss out on all the fun.
I looked in my craft supplies, and I had most of the materials I needed, card stock, glue, copy paper, and tape. I also had a sheet of stickers I recently received in the mail from Project Smile. They were perfect for this project because there were a variety of smiling children, cool stars and balloons. They would certainly catch the eye of anyone, adult or child, who would see them.
The last piece of the project I required was a box of microwave popcorn, but I don’t eat microwave popcorn. Easy solution to that too, I live five minutes away from a grocery store. The hardest part of this project was selecting a flavor of popcorn, who knew there would be so many?
My mother is usually my cohort when I want a secret service agent companion. I went to the grocery store to get my supplies and sent my mom a text asking if she was available. She called me and said that she was cleaning her walls (my mom is very industrious), but she was free in the afternoon. We agreed to meet up after lunch, and I went home to assemble the pieces. I cut up some patterned card stock to be the base of the tag, and then I sectioned out the copy paper. I don’t have a printer right now so I wrote out the message I wanted displayed on the tag. I wrote three variations and then added stickers to add a playful aspect. I glued the message to the card stock, and I have to admit it looked really cute! Then I taped the tag to the packages, and it just felt perfect. Now came the hard part, waiting until after lunch.
I looked online to see where the Redbox movie dispensers are located in my neighborhood, and then I went and picked up my mom. We went to Winco first, and as we walked to the machine, we saw someone and my mom asked, “How are we going to do this if there’s someone there?” I smiled and replied, “We will just wait our turn, it will all work out.” And it did because the woman left the machine before we arrived. I had attached long pieces of tape to the package, and my mom secured it to the front of the machine. We did an about-face and returned to my car for our subsequent destination.
The succeeding Redbox was inside Safeway, and so we had to be more covert, so we wouldn’t draw suspicion. Luckily, the movie dispenser was close to the exit, and my mom attached it to the machine. We were not quite quick enough and two men saw us in action. They gave us a knowing grin and continued on their way out the door. My mom and I laughed as we overheard their conversation about having a groove in their bed from sleeping in the same spot. They were still talking as we pulled out of the parking lot to our destination.
Fred Meyer was our last stop on our secret service mission. The Redbox was located inside at the entrance as well. To my disappointment, there were two machines, and we only had one more bag of popcorn. My mom assured me that there’s no use crying over spilt milk and that everything is exactly as it should be. I snapped the last picture and felt so giddy I hugged my mom and did a silly dance much to the amusement, I’m sure of the patrons of the grocery store. As we approached my car, my mom said that she hoped that a child would find it. I agreed and replied that children are often more open to receiving bits of magical fun.
As with most of my secret service projects, I wonder what happened after we left. I wonder if it made someone’s day, or if they are still attached to the machine waiting to go home. While I drove my mother back home, she picked up the empty popcorn box and asked if I wanted her to throw it away. I looked at the empty box and smiled, realizing that it never matters what happens after I finish a service project, all that matters is how I feel while I’m doing it and who I’m serving with.
I couldn’t wait to get back home and find my next service project, I know it will be a great one! How do you serve in your community? Where should I look for great serving ideas? Let me know in a comment and give this article a thumbs up!