3 Simple Ways to Help a Child in Need
Last night I was watching the Evening News with Diane Sawyer where they shared a YouTube video from a campaign in Norway "to call attention to the harsh conditions facing children displaced by the conflict in Syria and to provide warm clothing this winter. Nearly 4.3 million children in Syria live in poverty, are displaced, or are in the lines of fire, and nearly 1.2 million Syrian children live as refugees in surrounding countries."
Here is the video - please, if you have a minute - watch it - and I know you want to know the translation of the words being exchanged, but it truly doesn't matter. The little boy is an actor for the campaign. Though usually I HATE those undercover shows, punk'd, candid camera setups - I understand why they did this. Go ahead and watch it...
(to donate to SOS..click here https://give.sos-usa.org/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1808&ea.campaign.id=25385&ea.tracking.id=1X1402WQX01 )
It's hard to watch. But it is so important to see. As you watch it, are you thinking about who is going to give what to the boy? Are you saying to yourself , "I'd just give him my coat?" We're all watching this video and all different thoughts are running through our head - but the one thing that we can't shake is the sound of how cold he is. The importance of complete strangers to help someone in need is overwhelming - and though my heart absolutely breaks for the children that are suffering from wars in so many different countries, I am fighting this battle in my own backyard. Though I DO NOT DARE compare the kids that are suffering here with the plight of those poor children, the video reminded me of the basic human kindness we need in our day to day lives. I just thought I would use my blog to share my experience with you.
I've spent the last several years volunteering for a non-profit that gives outerwear to kids who don't have any. Much like John up there, they are out in the bitter cold - freezing - and they are relying on the kindness of strangers. I have seen children walk into our tiny little space of an office during our distribution days with slippers on because they don't have shoes...with pajamas on because it's all they have to stay warm..with a hooded sweatshirt because they have no hat. Every year that I've been giving away boots and coats, the amount of children in need goes up by the hundreds. It is absolutely baffling, that an area like this in New Hampshire, where people have SECOND homes on the big lake that are so many thousands of square feet that they need a Segway to get from one end to the other, has this many children who do not have the basic necessities to live day to day. It crushes me to think that there are kids in school who do not have what they need to be the best student they can be - from the basics of food, showers, oral hygiene - to school supplies - school lunches - etc. There are some resources in our individual communities, but not enough. These children are suffering. It's not their fault - they are just babies, and they need help.
We can go on with our daily lives not knowing about these kids, looking the other way at our kids' classroom parties when we see the kids whose clothing doesn't fit, or we can choose to do something. We can ask questions. We can find out how we can help. I'm not saying we can save everyone - but the tiniest thing can be so huge to someone else.
By talking about it, we are admitting that there is a problem. We are saying that we have a responsibility to do our part in our own towns to help in whatever way we can. It doesn't take that much - hell, it doesn't even take money; just a little time out of your day and a little effort to find out the needs of your community.
From my experience, I can tell you that there are 3 easy things you can do to help.
1. If you have a coat, snowpants or boots that do not fit your child, gently wash them and give them to the school nurse. If the school doesn't already have a care closet like this, it is a great idea for the PTA/PTO to bring before the administration to establish. A care closet at school can keep the bare necessities for children to have access to as teachers/nurses/aides see fit. This is something anyone can do if something doesn't fit anymore!
2. Ask the school nurse/guidance counselors or ask your PTO to find out what the need for supplies in the school is - breakfast bars, crackers, applesauce are easy to donate and store to create a School Food Pantry if your district doesn't provide one. There are many children who go to the nurse's office with a belly ache - because they are simply hungry. Communities have food pantries for adults to go for food, why shouldn't schools do the same? Instead of having a food drive for them, have a food drive for the school and feed the children that are hungry right under that roof first!
3. Other supplies such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo, and other personal hygiene products go a long way for families of students. These are easy drives to organize - sometimes local churches, banks, etc are willing to host the drive. Big Lots is known to let schools set up a weekend-long drive for patrons to buy toothbrushes, shampoo, etc and give it to the care box for the school. Student Council or National Honor Society and clubs like that are always looking for community service-type of events, get them involved and have them help get donations!
A few years ago, I helped establish a Care Closet at our middle school. With the help of extreme couponing, really great sales, donations from Walgreens and other stores in town, we stocked up the closet with all of the basic needs for kids who needed it. The closet has been visited over 1000 times just this school year. Kids can go in and get toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, sanitary pads, etc - no questions asked. We even did a semi-formal swap where people donated dresses and were able to find something to wear to the dance without having to buy anything. Some of the kids who were in need brought shoes that no longer fit them to give in return. Students that were once on the receiving end, were now on the giving end, creating a community of care. It's a beautiful thing when you can teach a child that they too can care for someone else in various ways.
We are never going to be able to help everyone - whether they are children in another country, another state, another city. We can try - and we can try with all of our might but we can only do so much. I think there is great power in starting with those suffering in your every day life that you see and walk by every single day. Start with them. Once you start, the feeling you get in return will propel you forward to do more.
To donate a coat, find your local One Warm Coat location on the link below. It's just that simple.
Coats for Kids:
If you made it this far - thank you. It's been a really hard winter & tough to see so many in need but we have to keep trying.
Until next time,
Do good. Feel good. Be good.