Thursday, May 13, 2010

Crazy Idea #43: Answer 'Wanted' Ads

I've written before that I think people should give more credence to their crazy ideas. Jenny happily pointed out that I didn't mention any of the crazy ideas that I had personally.

She's right, I didn't. And the truth is, I have crazy ideas all the time. Big ones. Expensive ones. So in the hopes of continued marital bliss (read: get my wife off my back), I'm going to post them. Complete with randomly assigned numbers to make you think I have more ideas than I actually do.

Crazy Idea #43: Answer 'Wanted' Ads

Odds are good that you've heard of Craig's List. This is the internet after all. Craigslist is just a giant online version of the classified ads from the newspaper. Where people can post items/ads for free.

There are several kinds of categories:
  • Housing
  • Personals
  • For Sale
  • Jobs
  • Community
  • Services
  • and others
I'd like to draw your attention to a little category inside the "For Sale" section:


This is normally full of people looking for very specific items they are hoping to pick up for dirt cheap. But if you look through the ads, you see a few that are not like the others. Certain keywords in the titles start to jump out at you:




If you open up those posts and read through them, you see people who aren't looking for specific niche items...they're looking for help. They're looking for assistance from strangers. Go ahead and look up this section of craigslist for your town. I know in mine, there are plenty listed within the past week or two.

Think for a moment the kind of circumstances you'd have to be in to post a "help needed please" ad on craigslist. The level of desperation or hopelessness that you'd feel in your situation.

Jenny and I found an ad posted by a family with needs we could easily meet a few weeks ago. They needed baby stuff. It was a family in town, woman & husband with a teenage daughter. The mom was unemployed, and had serious medical issues. Then their teenage daughter had a baby. The family was struggling beforehand, and had nothing for the baby.

No crib, clothes, toys, stroller, blankets, etc.


We were able to give some items (not nearly enough, in my opinion), but the gratitude from the family was intense.

This need was brought to our attention because I saw a clip online of a church that will answer some of these ads. It struck me as a great idea, one that could be done very well with some organization behind it.

Just think about what kind of impact it could have. A family or person in need posts up an ad for some basic items that they are in need of, the church responds to the ad by meeting with the person and getting their needs met by people in their church who have the ability. You can even set up RSS feeds for certain keywords (or the whole section), so that you're notified exactly when new listing appear that meet your criteria.

The church could get proactive with it, put up ads itself in various sections in craigslist advertising that it is able to help those in need. Surely a church, or group of churches, would be able to effectively eliminate all need for "Wanted" ads in craigslist (and the newspaper for that matter) in their community with a little intentionality.

That seems to be a pretty decent goal to have.

What do you think? Have you heard of something like this before, and I've just been in the dark about it? Ever been a part of a ministry like it?