Does anyone else have a refrigerator covered in photos? Those ones your ex-cousin’s- sister-in-law-once-removed gives you of their perfect family photo poised angelically by the Christmas tree? (Seriously! How many re-takes did that require?!) Or those magnets you get in the mail from all the realtors who are trying to buy your home and the pediatric dentist/walk in clinic that just opened up named “Mr. Smiles”? Yup. We have one of those fridges. I still have those colourful magnet letters on the side… should one of my blessed offspring choose to practice their name. (Note: my youngest kid is almost finished grade school and has been spelling her name for 8 years now with no troubles). I love my fridge. When friends come over they poke at the photos and comment on it. “Hey! How do you know these people?” or “Wow…who is that cutie?” It’s my connection to the people I love. I heard a speaker say once that God has a big fridge, too, with all our photos and crayon scribbled drawings on it — just because He loves us. That thought makes me smile.
There are a couple of photos on my fridge that are kinda special, though. They remind me to expand my love to not just my beloved friends and family… but also to the world at large. One is a beautiful, dark-skinned newborn still all squeaky and fresh. She (or he… I don’t even know!) is wearing one of my handmade, crocheted hats. The hats were delivered via a visiting friend to an African hospital. The photo makes me just wanna squeeze something. The other photograph has now been replaced by a digital version delivered to my inbox. It is of Shurjio, our sponsored child from Bangladesh. He’s grown a bit since our first photo, but it makes me a proud “foster” momma. I have never met either of these children, but something I did reached them… so they get a place on my fridge. A connection to my heartstrings.
Now, I don’t want you to think that I am a super woman who pours my heart into charity and raises thousands of dollars to “save the world”. Angelina Jolie I am not. In fact, my better half is much more aware of such issues and his empathy is usually the leading factor in our family donations to charity causes. He was raised in a missionary family who served in a variety of places out there in the world — many members of which also have “prayer cards” stuck on our fridge to this day. And so, by association, we share our resources diligently.
The purpose of this post is not to promote one charity mission or the other — it is simply a muse about some stuff that is on my to-do list, and close to my heart. Some time ago, I read a book by Dr. Wess Stafford, one of the CEO’s of Compassion International, called “Too Small to Ignore”. He too, was a missionary kid growing up in a different culture and shares how his life was impacted by the world around him — so much so that in his adult years, he chose to passionately make a change. It’s an inspiring book that changed some of my thinking about sponsor children. Our sponsor child happens to be with Compassion too… and they have some great resources for how to write letters and such to your sponsor child. Check out our Pinterest page if you want some great ideas for your family, school’s class or church group. It’s on my to-do list to write to Shurjio… his birthday is coming up!! (We “picked” him because he shares the same birthday as my middle son). I want him to know that some Canadian folks remember him, care about him, and want him to have a life deserving of all children. Complete with school, hugs and some birthday wishes!
That being said, I truly recognize that not all charity should be directed overseas. Our own neighbourhoods are filled with the poverty-stricken, the homeless, the helpless. I applaud the many who do great work right here. The blogging community is full of them, and my new adventure has connected me with a few new ones that I hope to stick on my fridge sometime soon. So where do we start? I read recently, that a according to a recent Angus Reid survey, one-third of Canadians feel they should be “doing more”. Tragedies like the Humboldt crash and their overwhelming GoFundMe page response, show that we are definitely trying. More and more of us give “goats” and “soccer balls” at Christmas via charities. We recognize that we don’t need more stuff… we have plenty to share. Our next generations are so much more aware of their world’s needs and are full of justice seeking ideas. My daughter’s fourth grade class recently raised enough money for a whole herd of goats. A bunch of seven and eight years olds made an impact in their ever shrinking world! Heaven smiles and sticks another photo up….
The skeptic in me wants to be sure, though. I am not as quick with my cheque book as others. I want to be sure that my funds are not being fueled into the pockets of those who don’t really need it. There are lots of articles out there about those charities. Do your research. Learn about the work and the people who do it. And then, if you are like me, and have a few photo cards up on your fridge, make sure you connect. Take the time to build relationships with some kids you don’t know. Whether they are down the street or across the ocean. Kids and moms and dads are the same all over… we worry about the same things, and like to play the same games. Me? I gotta find some stickers to send to a birthday boy in Bangladesh. Maybe he will put his birthday card from Canada up on his fridge. 🙂
#1. Do your research. Pick a charity that uses their funds wisely and makes a difference to the people or things that really need it.
#2. Be consistant. Set up monthly payments or keep track. Don’t commit and then give up on them.
#3. Connect. Write letters, fundraise, put some effort in. Share your talents or gifts to create some unique masterpiece they can use to help. It will make the cause more special to you. (Don’t forget to put that photo up on the fridge!)
#4. Share. If you love a charity, tell others about it. In this day and age of social media, we have no excuses.
#5. Pray. I know so many people supported by this simple act of kindness. Perhaps you don’t have the funds or are physically unable to walk or fundraise. You have no idea how God will use your prayers to update the photos on His fridge!