A Big Word of Thanks

As the United States prepares to gather around Thanksgiving tables this week, many of us feel thankful for the abundance of blessings in our lives. Families will gather, tables will be set, hands will be clasped and words of gratitude shared.

Yet we know that half a world away, and right in our own communities, people still struggle to eke out a living or to put enough food on the table.
One in seven children around the world are hurt by the scourge of poverty.
Three thousand children under age 5 die every day from diseases that come from dirty water.

Sometimes the news is so bad, it’s tempting to tune out. We turn on cable news, or even our social media feeds, and the stories can assault our senses.

The challenges we face as a people can seem overwhelming, and too often it feels like progress is impossible.

It’s a privilege to work with people just like you—people who share out of their abundance, and in some cases their poverty, to make sure children around the world have a box of food, or a backpack full of fresh new school supplies, or a pair of sturdy shoes, or a nutritious hot meal at school each day. On this day of Thanksgiving, we’re grateful for you.

The needs of our neighbors around the world and around the corner seem greater than we can manage. But as Mother Theresa put it, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.” And those small things add up—we see it happen every day. It’s in the couple who sponsors a child, or the twenty-something who rolls up her sleeves to pack food boxes, or the child who uses his allowance to buy a water purification kit for a family he’ll never even meet.

These small acts of goodness give us hope and make our work possible. But even more importantly, these gifts actually work to stem the tide of poverty and malnutrition. Internationally, in fiscal year 2014, Feed the Children distributed 20 million pounds of food, medicine, and other necessities valued at $78 million to children and families in 18 countries, benefiting over 4.9 million individuals globally. Around the world, close to 263,000 children are fully engaged in our child-focused food and nutrition programs, which regularly provide nutritious meals to children who may otherwise go an entire day without eating. Last year, Feed the Children sponsored over 11,500 children, addressing the root causes of poverty through child sponsorship and school sponsorship.

In addition to our donors, we’re thankful today to work side by side with incredible communities, families and children who dream big dreams for a life beyond poverty, and who are willing to work hard to make those dreams a reality. Consider Ashly, a five-year-old from Honduras. We’ve been partnering with her community since 2007; the partnership began with an AIDS prevention project and has grown and flourished over the years.

In 2011, Feed the Children inaugurated a Community Feeding Center and stocked it with kitchen supplies, a stove, benches and chairs, and food supplies. The Feeding Center is run by mothers in the community and it provides more than 400 children a hot meal 5 times a week. Ashly and her siblings are provided with two pairs of TOMS shoes a year, and last year the children received vitamins which helped improve their general health. Such assistance greatly alleviates the economic burden at home, but more importantly, it can help break the cycle of poverty by providing Ashly and other children a chance for a more stable and fruitful life.

Ashly and her mother.
Ashly and her mother.

Ashly’s mother is overwhelmed with gratitude: “This program has been a blessing to the whole community. Feed the Children really cares about our children’s welfare.” And Ashly says, “My mother can now buy more food for our family thanks to Feed the Children.”

On behalf of Ashly, and children around the world—thank you.

As we enter this season of giving and joy, you have an opportunity to support children just like Ashly, around the world and close to home. This Tuesday, December 1 is Giving Tuesday, and you’re invited to stand with us to help end child hunger once and for all. Each of our small actions will combine to make a big impact. Visit www.crowdrise.com/feedthechildren-tower to make your donation. And share this opportunity with your friends on social media and ask them to join you.

Gratitude upon gratitude.
Gift by gift—
We will make a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Feed the Children CEO Cooks Thanksgiving Dinner at Kenyan Orphanage

Yesterday, in Nairobi, Kenya the kids of the Dagoretti Children Center gathered for their first ever American Thanksgiving dinner.

It was an especially celebratory occasion because Kevin Hagan, President and CEO of Feed the Children helped to cook the meal along with his wife Elizabeth.

Kevin and Elizabeth spent the days leading up to the big dinner carefully planning the meal with the kitchen staff of the Center. Then, yesterday morning they worked tirelessly with the kitchen team to prepare the feast, side by side. Wearing special Feed the Children aprons and hats; they cooked and cooked and cooked.

When asked, Kevin said he wanted spend the holidays in Kenya because, “The kids at the Center are so very important to me. They’re the heart of our mission. I need them to know that their Feed the Children family loves them.”

Over 50 children and staff gathered around adjoined tables for this great feast.

IMG_3812The menu consisted of the traditional fare –turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and stuffing along with a few other side dishes more familiar to the Kenyan children likecooked carrots, garden peas and leeks. The children liked the sweet potatoes and turkey the best.

For dessert, the children enjoyed cupcakes with ice cream, a rare treat, while the adults savored on apple crumble and peach cobbler.

Before dinner began, Elizabeth offered a thanksgiving prayer and many of the children shared what they were thankful for –“Life!” “Feed the Children!,” and “Our visitors to Kenya!”

IMG_2418Kevin carved the turkey and explained the history of American Thanksgiving and why it is important to give thanks.

After dinner, the staff choir shared several songs with the group, which included “Count Your Many Blessings” and some traditional Swahili songs about giving thanks as well.

Several of the older children performed a skit about thankfulness, inviting the audience to join in.

IMG_8366Seintje Veldhuis, Regional Director of African programs, who also helped to organize the event said, “This was a very happy day for the children and the staff. We gave thanks to all be together.”

The Thanksgiving festivities concluded with a song in Swahili about how “Goodness had come to Dagoretti” on this very special day. The staff, children and choir danced their way out of the Dining hall. Each leaving the dinner with a smile on their face!

IMG_0223If you would like to know more about how to support programs like this one in Kenya, check out our gift catalog.