Last April, we invited our Clubhouse Jr. readers to help us collect tank tops for African orphans. The response was inspiring. From yard sales to bake sales, pizza parties to birthday celebrations, an army of little hands eagerly accepted the challenge. Pooling their creativity and resources, they engaged their families, neighborhoods, churches and schools. When the deadline arrived last July, children as young as 2-years-old from around the country flooded us with tank tops in all shapes, sizes, and colors.
I’d say that’s amazing especially when you consider that these industrious allies have no money, they don’t drive, they can’t shop . . . and some are too young to read! And yet they managed to provide 6,582 tank tops for the orphans. How did they do it? Danny, 9, said, “Instead of bringing gifts to my birthday party, I asked people to bring tank tops for Africa.” Noah, 6, said, “I sold some of my old clothes and toys at our yard sale. We went to the store and bought the tank tops.”
Seven-year-old David writes, “I invited family, friends and neighbors to a ‘pizza in the park’ day where they got lunch if they brought a tank top. We collected 62 tank tops that day and prayed for the children who will receive them.” Four sisters in Mankato, Minnesota, ages 2, 4, 6 and 8, had fun for the whole family, “My sisters and I each picked out a tank top in our size. We think it would be really fun if they went to a family of four sisters like us!”
Recognizing the power of the pen, Ellianna, 7, launched a letter writing campaign. She says, “I sent letters to my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my first grade class. In the letter, I told them about the children in Africa and asked them to help me collect tank tops for these orphans. With their help, I am happy that I was able to collect 88 tank tops!” Laura, 5, said, “I asked people at church to donate tank tops, and I made a poster to hang on the wall at church.”
It’s clear these precious youngsters would have given the shirt off of their back to help children on the other side of the globe. Whether they knew it or not, they were acting in a way that reflected the heart of God and His desire for us to care for the poor. In Deuteronomy 15:11b, we read, “Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’”
Not to be left out of the action, last Fall we challenged our Clubhouse readers (kids ages 8-12) to fight malaria in Africa. Our story entitled “Miserable Mosquitoes” pointed out the fact that every 40 seconds a child dies from malaria. However, for every $20 raised, a family would be provided a mosquito net for their bed, malaria education, and mosquito prevention information for their community. Some of the funds raised would help educate villages to dry up standing water which would decrease the mosquito population.
The net results?
By the end of 2008, Clubhouse families donated more than $10,000 in contributions. Their generosity provided the critically needed bed nets to 500 families in Africa. Through their giving, an estimated 2,000 lives will be saved. By the way, we partnered with WorldVision to implement the program.
These two examples demonstrate that young people will rise to the challenge and put their faith in action when they are given the opportunity. I believe part of our job as parents is to instill in our youth a heart for those in need, whether they’re in another country or just up the street.
What service opportunities might you engage your children with this year?