Today is Blog Action Day, where thousands of blogs around the world all come together to raise awareness on a particular topic.
Last year, it was global warming, this year the topic is poverty.
I was all geared up to write about seeding entrepreneurship in developing countries for this year’s blog action day. There are some amazing organizations, like Kiva.org, which lets you loan small amounts of money (as little as $25) to business owners in developing countries. And, The Acumen Fund, an organization first brought to my attention by Seth Godin that helps develop larger scale entrepreneurial ventures in developing countries as a means to facilitate greater self-determination.
I was going to write about that, but, walking my daughter to school this morning, I wondered…
“What about my own backyard?
So often, when we think about addressing a massive global challenge like poverty, our minds go immediately to the locations of greatest public awareness. And, no doubt, these are places and people who need our love, our involvement…and our money.
But, what about the poverty that exists right around the corner?
Isn’t that worth talking and doing something about, too? Isn’t there something we, and especially our more fortunate kids can do to help other kids who, but for the grace of God, have ended up homeless, hungry or otherwise in need?
The answer is yes. There are many things we and our kids can do. And, for me and my family, this very exploration has led us to a great organization called Kids Care Clubs.
Kids Care Club is an organization that supports kids helping kids in need.
It organizes groups of kids into local chapters with two main goals. One is to teach kids compassion and empathy through working as a team to help those in need. And, the second, of course, is to help those who need helping. They have chapters all over the U.S., many of which have been organized and are overseen by local moms and dads.
My wife actually started the chapter in our neighborhood over the summer.
It started life as the Sweet Daisy Kids Care Club and it was all girls. Pretty much just my wife, my daughter and a handful of her friends. Their first project was to raise money for kids in families who were recently homeless and now living in transitional shelters. They wanted to do something that would really make the these kids in transition feel better about themselves, so they set the goal of raising money to buy backpacks and school supplies for them.
Rather than just ask people to donate, they decided, too, that it was important to somehow “work” to raise the money.
So, they made lemonade and cookies and set up a lemonade stand on the corner by a local park…and the neighborhood responded in a huge way. People were buying snacks and lemonade, sending friends over and donating extra to the cause.
But then, something else started to happen.
Other kids began asking what it was all about, once they learned where the money was going, more and more kids wanted to join in. Within minutes, there was a literal peaceful army of kids running all through the park telling people about what they were doing, taking orders and hand delivering them. In the blink of an eye, the group had grown in size and it wasn’t just girls anymore.
The kids’ success fueled them to work harder, which led to many more lemonade stand adventures throughout the summer and a change in name to the PS 24 Kids Care Club to reflect it’s growth and move into the local school.
Once they had raised enough money, my wife got all the kids together one evening and they all worked to assemble all the backpacks, pack them with supplies and a bunch of kids then handwove lanyard zipper attachments to add a “coolness” factor. The next day, a few days before school was about to start, all the packs were delivered.
The kids felt great about what they did and made a real difference in the lives of other kids.
Now, they are on to their next project, helping a new group of kids in need. And, no doubt, there’ll be many more projects that center around collecting food, helping with education, clothing and so much more.
All that was really needed was a bit of focus, education and a plan.
From there, the kids just immediately “got it.” They saw the need, they saw a fast, tangible way to help. And, they took action. There were no committees or red tape. No complex budgets to wrangle or egos to sooth, no posturing for publicity. They just plum did it!
And, Kids Care Clubs provided the support. They shared a simple framework that would allow kids to reach directly out to help other kids. To cultivate in the next generation a sense of compassion, a sense of giving, a direct connection with those less fortunate than them and a better understanding of just how incredibly fortunate they are.
And, that’s the place I’d love to see those coming up in the world make the big decisions from.
Because kids are the future. They are the big problem solvers. So, the more compassion we can cultivate, the more aware we can make them, the more action we can encourage, the better our world will end up being. And, very often, those qualities are easiest taught closer to home.
So, give to those places we all know are dealing with horrible suffering and poverty, those far away places where it’s difficult to do much more than publicize, rally and donate.
But, don’t forget the lessons and the opportunities to give not just money, but heart, soul, compassion, love and time right here in our own backyard.
And, if you’ve got kids, make them part of the exploration.
Fee free to share your thoughts, ideas or other organizations or efforts that focus on helping kids in need in the comments below…
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