I believe in trying to make a difference–in helping, serving, offering hope, and lifting others in need. Making a contribution is one of my top priorities, right under family and faith, and I know many of you feel the same–that contributing to the greater good is not only important in life, but essential.
There are many worthy causes, however, and it can be tough to know where to begin. How do we know who really needs us? What can we actually do? And how can we raise children who embody and will carry on the same values of service and love?
Help for the Refugee Crisis
Recently, I interviewed Hayley Smith, a young woman who had been asking herself some of these same questions. Hayley founded Lifting Hands International–a non-profit that serves refugees, here and overseas, getting these families “what they need, simple and politics-free.” She did so in response to witnessing first hand the dire needs of refugees in Greece. After spending time with many families who’d been displaced from house, home, and country. Hayley saw a need and acted, forming her 501c3 organization just in time for others to get involved.
Hayley, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or LDS church, of which I’m also a member), says she felt compelled to form Lifting Hands a few months ago, though she didn’t fully understand why and knew it was a daunting task. She was simply listening to and following her intuition. Shortly after her non-profit was official, during the general conference of the LDS church–an event that reaches around the world to its 15 million members–the leaders of the church asked and urged members to get involved with the refugee crisis and do what each family is able to do to make a difference. Hayley’s organization was ready to go, and suddenly, countless individuals and families were contacting her to see how they might help, too.
That’s how I became involved with Lifting Hands, and Hayley. I was asking what I could do
when a friend mentioned Lifting Hands. She said they were doing a drive of simple items, like shoes, underwear, maxi pads, and diapers, that the refugees need desperately. I became a donation site in my town. My kids and I collected whatever used items we had (like backpacks, hats, and gently worn sandals), purchased some new items, and added them to the collected donations from dozens of other families here in Flagstaff, who were ready and happy to help. It was wonderful seeing small children show up with their parents to drop items off, showing how easy it is to get our kids involved, too. Then, I drove them down to the main donation collection site, in Phoenix. It was a very small thing, but it was something I could do–something we could do.
Still, I wanted to do more. So, I invited Hayley onto “Motherhood,” and now I’m writing this post to encourage any of you who might like to be of service to get involved, too. I realize the refugee crisis is a charged political issue, but I urge you to step away from politics for a moment and see it for what it really is–a human issue. Already, in only a few weeks, this cause made a huge impact on my life–learning about the plight of these families, and their stories (watch Hayley’s interviews with refugees on her YouTube channel, here), and giving me a simple way to make a real difference in the lives of these families who have lost and been through so very much. It makes me want to continue to help these families, to do more, to use my talents and skills to make a broader difference; it makes me want to share this opportunity with all of you.
What Can You and Your Family Do?
Listen to Hayley’s experiences on this week’s powerful “Motherhood” episode. She not only explains what she’s witnessed, but she explains the bigger picture in a moving way that will hopefully inspire you to want to get involved and help.
Then, do what you can to make a difference–for the refugees, or whomever needs your help today. There are so many ways to serve–from caring for your own young children, to helping others with their children, to joining a local food drive, to becoming part of a worldwide relief effort for the millions of refugees in crisis. Truly, the best service is simply to look and see who is in need, and then, to love greatly. We all know that when we serve and help and lift and love others, we get so much more in return.
As we reach out in love and service to others, we can invite our children to help us, and as they grow older, we can encourage them to find their own causes where they can make a difference. We can show them our desire to lift and serve, and then pass it on–to our children, grandchildren, neighbors, and friends. As we seek to serve and love others, we will make a difference in the lives of our loved ones, too, by being the example of one who is willing to stand up, serve, and make a difference in the world today.
How can you get involved in the refugee crisis?
First, listen to Hayley’s story and feel inspired. Then, check out the Lifting Hands International Website for ways to donate money, used items, and time. Other reputable organizations you may want to get involved with include:
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