Dennys is 16 and lives in a poor village in El Salvador. For years he was a beneficiary of our school meals programs in his community where he received a daily, nutritious meal. This food helped Dennys not only to overcome malnutrition, but also to stay in school. When he got a little older, Feed the Children, through support from our child sponsorship program, started a livelihood-development project in his community in the field of tailoring. Despite his dream of one day being a journalist, Dennys knew his family was too poor to ever send him to college. But when he saw the opportunity to learn a trade that could earn him some money to apply toward college—Dennys jumped at the chance!
He enrolled in our tailoring project and quickly became one of the best and most talented students—finishing his certificate of completion with flying colors. Now Dennys makes suits, shirts, pants, uniforms, dresses—all kinds of clothing and sells them to the community. With the income he earns, he is able to help with the necessities of his family, as well as set aside some money for college. Dennys enjoys tailoring, and his excellent work is becoming sought-after in the village. The best part is that he is excited and hopeful for his future. Without this program, Dennys probably would have had to drop out of school and go to work in the fields, earning just a couple of dollars a day and being stuck in a life of abject poverty.
Goats in places countries like Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, countries where we work, can mean the difference between prosperity and despair. We recently told you about a woman in Malawi who received two goats and it changed the course of her kids’ lives. Your donation could bring a smile like this!
3. Want to give give a gift that is just a little bit more? Could you give $113? With this end of year donation, you could provide all the food, care and support an abandoned baby needs to thrive in Kenya.
Get some great deals on Black Friday? Wait until you see the gifts you can pick up from our gift catalog.
Today is the third annual ‘Giving Tuesday,’ which is a day reminding us to give back, and the internet is full of causes asking for donations. But do you really know where your money is going when you click ‘donate’?
For Giving Tuesday, we invite you to know your gift matters. Whether it’s a chicken, a book, a water purification system, or a semi-truck full of necessities, these gifts can help children and their families succeed.
We understand that it might be hard to decide with so many options, so here’s five gift suggestions to help you get started:
Help feed school children with a traditional Githeri meal of corn and kidney beans. In our Kenya programs, Feed the Children serves meals to 140,229 children in 170 schools each school day. Your gift will help children thrive physically and mentally.
Keep the trucks moving! Your gift helps Feed the Children pick up and deliver food and other essentials to communities across America. Thanks to caring friends like you, our 40 semitrucks will stay on the road to feed hungry families and children throughout our nation.
Whether your holiday shopping list contains a new toy or the hottest new device, be sure to make a difference this Giving Tuesday and help defeat hunger with Feed the Children.
We’ve told you that to end childhood hunger, we need to empower children, unite forces, and attack the problem from all angles and that it takes all of us in the fight: donors, experts, organizations, communities and leaders.
But we haven’t yet told you more about values. At Feed the Children, these values motivate us:
Challenge convention: we believe that a future without hungry children is possible.
Defend dignity: we believe in treating each child and family in the communities where we work with value and worth.
Champion partnership: we believe collaboration is the only way to end childhood hunger.
Value every donor: we believe in donors playing an active role in ending childhood hunger.
Drive accountability: we believe in making changes when something isn’t working and building on the success when it is.
When some look at this list they may ask, “What happened to the word ‘Christian?’ Wasn’t ‘Christian’ one of your values before? Are you no longer a Christian organization?”
To answer these questions, we need to tell you bit more of our story.
In 1979, a group of Christian leaders sensed a calling to care for, protect, and feed children in need around the world. They read the exhortations of Jesus as recorded in Matthew 25 to feed “the hungry” and give water “to the thirsty” and provide “clothes” to those without.
In response, these Christians knew they needed to act. How could they not? Collectively, they began raising support and organizing leaders toward this cause, eventually founding the organization called Feed the Children in their hometown of Oklahoma City.
For over 35 years, Feed the Children has served thousands of communities all over the world and in the United States motivated by this same fact—Jesus teaches all of us to look after the most vulnerable citizens of this world.
And we’ve done so without discrimination. We’ve fed children with Christian parents. We’ve given water to children in Muslim nations. We’ve helped children learn in the slums of Central America. We’ve given children permission to dream big for their future in America’s inner cities.
We’ve done so because it is the right thing to do. How can you see a hungry kid and turn away? Jesus couldn’t. And many of our employees have joined our team out of their own faith calling. They work tirelessly on behalf of the children not only because they believe in the mission that no child go to bed hungry but because it is what Jesus said to do.
This is our faith story: Feed the Children is a show, not tell, organization.
The great saint of the church, Francis of Assisi once said, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”
This is why you no longer see the word “Christian” in our values statement. We believe we don’t need it.
In fact, we believe all of our value statements reflect who Jesus was and what he taught:
Didn’t Jesus challenge convention when he overthrew the money tables in the temple courts?
Didn’t Jesus defend dignity when he pushed the unlikely to the front of the line: the women, the children, and the sick?
Didn’t Jesus champion partnership when he chose 12 followers to journey alongside him for his teaching ministry on earth?
Didn’t Jesus value every donor when he taught the 5,000+ gathered on the mount and then fed them a plentiful meal too?
Didn’t Jesus drive accountability when he challenged the popular teachers of the day who were more interested making a dollar than they were caring for souls?
For these reasons and many more, our team is proud of our brand values. To live into a mission that loves, protects and defends kids is a worthy and exciting calling.
We believe the world needs more Christians who put feet to their faith and act on what they believe. Or as James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the Word of God, but do what it says.”
This is most what we want you to know: Feed the Children is motivated by Jesus’ teachings every day. But you won’t find us congratulating ourselves from the mountaintops. With every child we feed, with every parent and caregiver of children we empower, with every community we engage with hope, we seek to BE Christ’s hands and feet in the world.
Every February, retailers across the U.S. unroll yards of pink and red bunting, tack hearts on every flat surface, and load their shelves with chocolates, flowers, and jewelry. And every February, those who feel left out of the love holiday complain that Valentine’s Day should be named Single Awareness Day or call for a boycott of the manufactured holiday with such impossibly high standards.
Love (and the lack of it) can be awfully hard on the soul.
But as uncertain as love can seem, it’s still the single best thing we can allow ourselves to feel… and to give. This Valentine’s Day, whatever your situation, take a moment to consider this: you have options. If you live in a developed country, there’s a good chance that you can take steps to change your circumstances, explore possibilities, and shape your life. We are taught this from childhood.
Ask a child in the suburbs what she wants to be when she grows up. Her answer could be “I want to be a pilot” or “I want to be the President of the United States” or “I want to be a rock star.” My kids dream of making people laugh or forging careers as professional musicians.
Try asking that question of a child in one of the poor communities where we work. These children have no such dreams. Often, they respond, “If I grow up….” The future is by no means guaranteed, and these little ones figure that out at a tragically early age.
When I visited a family carving out a life from the side of a mountain in Bolivia, it was this inability to look ahead or look up from the desperate striving to survive that surprised me. I cannot comprehend a life without hope and without dreams. But when we talked with the mother and father in the yard between their house and their kitchen (they cooked in a hut separate from their sleeping area), it was clear. They had potential but no ability to see it, let alone the margin to cultivate it. They were just trying to stay alive.
In our work with those at the poorest levels of society (both here in the United States and overseas in developing countries), we define poverty as a lack of options, lack of margin, and lack of hope. The people in the poorest parts of the world have lost the ability to dream. They spend every ounce of energy just trying to survive the day. Stepping back to take stock, look for alternatives, or imagine a different life? That is a luxury they can’t even conceive of.
You can give these children that hope. You can open the door to choices, help their families build a little margin so they can bounce back from setbacks, and create an environment in which they can dream… and love. The quickest way to feel love is to give love. And there are few things more loving than opening your heart to a child in need.
The numbers are overwhelming. One in five American households with children were unable to put adequate food on the table at times during the year. One in eight people around the world regularly do not get enough food to live an active life. These numbers represent precious human lives and millions of children who lack what they need to reach their potential.
If you find yourself looking at these numbers, concluding that the problem is too big, and turning away, you aren’t alone. But just for today, don’t. Sit with it for a minute. Then know this: Hunger is a big problem both in the United States and around the world, but you can help.
We asked our staff to suggest simple things that ordinary people could do to help, not to feel better about ourselves but to truly make life better for the people around us who are going without.
Submitted by Jayme Cloninger Leverage your skills in accounting, graphic design, business, etc., at your local community anti-hunger organization.
Submitted by Tony Forrest Sponsor a child in a developing country through Feed the Children. If you have them, involve your own children by sending letters and pictures to the sponsored child.
Submitted by Tom Davis and Jayme Cloninger Track your grocery and other food costs for one week. Then take the Food Stamp Challenge, living on $4/day/person for your food, and donate the money that you save that week to a local food bank. If you can’t make it on $4/day, spend more, but commit to donating the same amount you would have given otherwise plus the amount that you went over the limit.
Submitted by Tamara Johnston and Justin Shumaker Go in with your coworkers on a purchase from the FTC gift catalog.
Submitted by Jayme Cloninger Host a movie night in your workplace, faith community or school to show a documentary on hunger (e.g., A Place at the Table). Follow up with discussions and brainstorming about what your group can do together to help.
Submitted by Kristen Mills and Minna Suh Even if you don’t normally use cash, select certain purchases to pay for with cash this year. Save all the change (or, for an extra challenge, save your singles too). You will be AMAZED at how quickly this adds up.
Submitted by Hogan Thomas Workplace activities are fun! Participants pay a small fee that you donate to a local charity. Here are some ideas to get you started:
sell 15-minute naps
host a game tournament (players pay a fee to participate)
allow employees to pay to take their dog to work
host a cook-off or bake-off (people pay to sample and vote),
host a Pay To Wear a Hat Day or a Wildest Tie or Most Outlandish Earring contest (entrants pay a fee)
My six-year-old son scrunched his eyes and mouth in confused surprise. Mom wants a goat? Not new slippers, chocolate, or a cookbook?
I laughed, “Not for me, silly. I want to give a goat to another family. Remember the gift catalog I showed you?” I slid it across the table towards him. “Let’s pick some gifts out for children who are hungry today.”
He nodded, and as he flipped through the pages, we giggled at the idea of finding a goat under our Christmas tree.
My children are like most children. When confronted with a real person in real need, children’s hearts move immediately to help. They give generously and without reservation. But when they no longer see the need, they forget all about it. But are children really so different from adults? We too see catastrophes and are moved to help right away. But as our attention shifts to the Next Big Thing the urgency to relieve someone else’s suffering fades. Do you think about the people who lost everything in the tornadoes in May? What about last year in Hurricane Sandy? I have to confess – I forget.
When we recognized this about ourselves, my husband and I decided we would not longer relegate our giving to whim and impulse. We knew we must make a conscious choice to give and to teach our children to share or we wouldn’t do it. We are wealthy compared to most, glutted with piles of paper, toys, electronics, more paper, more toys, broken electronics we don’t know how to dispose of, and still more paper. We do not need to collect any more stuff; we need to share what we already have.
Two years ago, we introduced our children to their first gift catalog. They examined and circled gifts with the same excitement I saw on Black Friday as they pored over sale papers. We talk about how many children don’t have food in their pantry or a bed of their own, let alone the latest toy. We watch a video so they can see how one of these special gifts can change a child’s life. In those moments, my children see how helping another child with basics like food and water is much more important than pursuing the latest release from Apple or Nintendo.
Children are concrete and visual. Flipping through pages of photos and talking about how a goat or set of chickens or seeds or fish nets helps them grasp giving in a way that mailing a check cannot. It also allows them to ask questions that show us parents where their hearts are and just how much they understand.
Lest you think we’re some sort of Norman Rockwell painting, our kids are still kids. Our youngest boy was just 3 the first year we gave a sheep. He drove us crazy for the next month, pestering us about where the sheep was that we ordered. My daughter refuses to give any animals that might be eaten for meat, so she reads every detail and selects her gift with extreme care. In fact, we have trouble agreeing on a single animal to give as a family.
Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, and our family will begin this year’s negotiations over Feed the Children’s new gift catalog. Most likely, we will choose a variety of items to satisfy everyone in our family, and we will choose a few gifts to give in honor of another family member, in lieu of more unnecessary stuff.
How will you observe Giving Tuesday? And how do you (or did you) teach the children in your life about the joy of giving? Please share your ideas in the comments.
Joy Bennett is Director for Social Engagement at Feed the Children.