The tragedy in Haiti as well as others around the world is very real and large. We have been working for the last couple of weeks on teaching our students how to care. We are now ready to help your students to respond, what do we do?
A ministry that is very close to my heart is Urban Youth Impact (UYI), in West Palm Beach Florida. This organization recognized that we must take the time to first acknowledge the hurts of the students of our city. Then they began to help them see how to care. Once this had been accomplished they started by helping students to see the needs in their own community.
This began with simple things like:
1. Taking students on day to “clean up the streets.” Helping them to care about their own city block and keep it clean of litter and debris.
2. Their choir would visit local nursing homes and others to sing and bring some cheer.
3. Bringing meals to shut-ins.
4. Making gift baskets, cards and crafts for others in their community.
5. Helping to fix-up the home of a neighbor.
The goal was to begin on that “glocal” level. This meant that they cared locally and began to help students see that the rest of the world is not so far away. The world has become “flat.” This means that we live in an age unlike any other when it is possible to give our youth practical ways to genuinely bring help to the rest of the world. With technology like television, the Internet and the “3G” network we are able to see and respond unlike any other time in history. We are without excuse to help our students see the rest of the world.
Before the tragedy in Haiti even happened, UYI had begun to help their students see the world. It began small and tangible by asking students to help bring in money and supplies to “adopt a shoe- box” for Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan’s Purse. Many of the students at UYI would be without Christmas gifts if it were not for an annual “Christmas Store,” that they provide for the community. However, when they talked of stories of children around the world who might only get a box full of baubles for Christmas, they began to respond. The youth were shown videos of actual children around the world and the stories of them getting these shoe- boxes for Christmas. Even the poorest at UYI could feel and touch this need. Many of the youth knew how it felt to be without. They wanted to help. Money and supplies for 15 boxes poured in. The youth put them together themselves. Several of the youth helped to drop the boxes off.
When the tragedy in Haiti hit, their hearts were ready to respond. The natural reaction by the youth was, “What can we do to help?”
Here are some of their ideas as well as others taken from local ministries who are responding from the city to Haiti and the global need:
1. Start small: The night that you teach on what they should care take an offering.
2. Keep a jar in your youth room that students know they can always bring coins or more in for your efforts.
3. Make it personal. Contact a missions organization like, Aslan Youth Ministries out of Red Bank, NJ that is working in Haiti and ask if you can get letters and pictures from them about what is going on there.
4. Have students pick something “tangible” that their money is going towards, like food supplies or medicine.
If you are thinking the little money that my kids bring in is not enough try some of these ideas:
1. Hold a brainstorming meeting with your youth who are leaders or with your group as a whole to come up with ideas to respond. This way you get their by in and they are often more creative than we are.
2. Have students make crafts like jewelry or something else that they could sell at a local flea market.
3. If students make something to sell ask local businesses (especially those that think globally like Starbucks) if you could set up a table to sell the youth’s merchandise.
4. Good old standards: Bake sales and car washes
5. Have students get permission to sell candy for a special holiday at school.
6. Set up a snack stand during youth times or at church on Sunday with all proceeds going towards Haiti.
7. Have students make cards to send with missionaries for those recovering hospitals.
8. Have students bring in some items like crayons and hard candy and put together small Baggies of “care packages” for children recovering.
9. Have used clothes drive and find local drop off locations for those who are getting supplies to Haiti.
10. Host a “30 Hour” Famine through World Vision with all of the proceeds going towards Haiti.
Help your students to see that they CAN help and that what they do does matter. They begin to care as they see that it matters that they care. Next week as we wrap up our time we will be taking our final moments to talk about some larger scale ways that your group can respond.