I have been thinking about fundraising A LOT over the last month, probably because I AM FUNDRAISING RIGHT NOW. I have wondered what makes people give, why and how they are motivated. The gift of giving is truly underrated. People think that it is easy, you just write a check; but, it really isn’t. It is a gift, just like singing, or being a great athlete, or a painter. Givers are good at it, and they are faithful to causes they contribute to, and can part with their resources because of a commitment and a connection to the project or people they support. All of the giving to my project for Ecole de Choix was birthed out of a passion for my job here at Soles4Souls. I connected with the track team because they had no shoes to train in, and this has stayed with me.
I remember vividly the first time I ever fundraised. I was a junior at Manning High School studying AP American History, and my teacher, Mrs. Hampton, told us about the National Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC. It was a conference to study government, history, and leadership with students from all across the US. It sounded like a dream to me and I wanted to go so badly. But, financially, there was NO WAY that I could. My Mom and I did not have the resources to pay for me to go. But, there was this burning desire in my heart to go and be a part of it. I just wanted to so badly. I wanted to learn, to go to the Capitol building, to meet students from all over. Yes, for me it sounded like a dream.
I cannot remember who told me to fundraise…but I began to. I had a 10 speed bike with no brakes…yep. I had to run into a brick wall to stop, or use my tennis shoes. But after school, I began to ride all around Manning, SC on my bike with no brakes, with my school clothes on. I went to the Bank of Clarendon, to the Clarendon county courthouse, the office of Senator John Land, to Mr. Travis at B-Mart (kind of like a small Wal-Mart), anywhere and everywhere I could with my form letter about my trip and asked them to contribute so that I could go. I needed around $1700, and I guess I got it, because off I went on an airplane about this time almost 20 years ago. My Daddy bought my plane ticket, and my Mom made me this cute hounds tooth suit to wear when I went to the Capitol.
I don’t remember the classes I took there and I don’t remember everyone’s name, but I DO remember not feeling so small anymore. I remember thinking if people had enough faith in what I was doing to contribute and help me get there, then I must be able to achieve something special. Things didn’t seem as impossible to me as they had, nor did I feel as insignificant. I realized that I had the same chance as everyone else did to make my life count for something.
I want the four kids from the Ecole de Choix track team to feel the same way I did when I got on the plane to head for Washington DC. My Momma kissed me goodbye as I boarded and cheered me on…I want their Moms to do the same, full of joy and pride for their babies as they head to Curacao.
I want them to run their race, with their beautiful heads up, and their hearts full, knowing that they are fully supported by a group of people who do not even know them, but love them still.
I want them to meet children who speak other languages from different countries, but share their passion for running and life and laughter.
I want them to cross the finish line and finish well, knowing that the finish line for them is also a starting point in their lives to embark on a new journey and see where it takes them.
Twenty years ago, I was a girl on a bike with no brakes. Today, they are 4 children who have earned a chance to compete.
I wanted to share something pretty special with you and ask for your help! Through Soles4Souls, I met a group of amazing students in Haiti, at L'Ecole de Choix (The School of Choice). They started a track team last fall and asked Soles4Souls to help with athletic shoes and clothing. Before we sent shoes, they ran in their school shoes...or barefoot.
Now, 4 of their athletes have qualified to compete in the Central American and Caribbean Games in June! This story is like something you would watch in a movie...and I want to give them every chance they deserve!
So...I am running the Country Music Half Marathon on April 27th....and my goal is to cross the finish line and have all of the money raised for this project! I am asking you to help! Every contribution counts! One hundred percent of the money raised will go to them and its tax-deductible!
Help me to help them RUN..AND WIN! Here is the link to contribute: http://isupportsports.com/projects/send-lecole-de-choix-to-the-2013-caribbean-games1/412
Thank you in advance for giving and sharing this with your family and friends!
Ale L'Ecole de Choix!
I had the chance to speak today with a leader from an amazing organization. We talked almost an hour about our work, our mission, etc. He said the most profound thing to me....regarding measuring the success of their initiatives worldwide:
"Children are our barometer"
What a statement. But if you think about it, it is SO true. Everything comes back to the children, even here in the US...
Health care is compromised, you see it in the children. Without a routine check-up, some conditions can go unnoticed. Without proper medication, a minor illness can turn into something very serious and life-threatening.
Food supply or nutrition is poor, you see it in the children. Their little bellies are swollen from malnutrition, or they cannot concentrate in class, because they are not getting the nutrients they need.
Education is not a priority for all, you see it in the children. I remember being in a school in Haiti, playing with the children inside, while a young boy their age yelled at me from the window of his house "hey, you, hey, you!!", over and over, to get my attention. His life was very different from theirs. A brick wall separated them, separated HIM, from another journey his life could take, given the chance to be educated.
Families are supported and encouraged, you see it in the children. Single mothers raising children who lack a necessary parental figure in their home. These children already have the odds against them, but if we have MENTORS for them, we have already given them a HUGE boost.
Children are helpless, they are products of their environment and they are MIRRORS for us to see what is going on in their home and direct community. So, like my new friend said today, if you want to see if you are accomplishing anything, or if your programs working...start by looking at the children. They will tell you.
I have been able to be a part of several of our Travel4Souls shoe distribution trips as a co-leader, and I am very excited because I will be leading several trips a year for us now! My first trip is scheduled for May 24-28 in El Progreso, Honduras. I actually visited this town and most of the villages two years ago on a trip there and I cannot even explain the excitement of going back. Since my visit in December 2011, Soles4Souls has been able to help a particular village there multiple times with shoes and clothing, and we are working on a small micro-business venture too, with our shoes.
But my reason for this post is to tell you why you should travel with us, so let’s get right to the point:
1. Travel with us because…it opens your eyes and heart to the world around you. This is first and foremost why I think trips like ours are a great benefit. We can do volunteer work and donate locally, but I personally think trips like ours really are game changers. I have been to several countries now and have witnessed poverty that I really still cannot conceive, people bathing in Haiti on the side of the road, children’s bellies protruding in Honduras due to malnutrition and destruction and hardships that to this day do not even make sense to me. But, I also witnessed community and family structures I never knew possible, kindness and mercy from people even though I could not speak their language and joy and strength of human spirit that left me speechless. Each time I go, I come back in pieces and leave a fragment behind. Life continues for me, but I am left with the indention in my soul of places and people in the world that need help and hope. I am also left knowing I need them too.
2. Travel with us because…its easy. Not everyone is ready for a guts and glory backpacking excursion to the jungles of Brazil in search of a village you can’t pronounce. Now that’s pretty cool…but it is just not for everyone. We do the work for you here at T4S, and arrange every detail, so that it is as easy as paying the travel fee, getting your information beforehand and hopping on a plane with a group of people you will never want to forget. We have everything lined up, food, lodging and distributions, and yes, while it is not the comfort of home, you actually won’t mind. You get to unplug for a few days and concentrate on things that really matter, and they will make everything else pale in comparison when you get home.
3. Travel with us because…it’s also risky. While our trips are a little tamer than others, it is still a big risk for many of our participants. Its often their first time traveling internationally. I have watched participants when we land in Haiti; I see their faces as we leave the airport to find our bus in a sea of skycaps clamoring for their next tip. At first, it is more than a little scary. You are not in Kansas anymore. But I have never had ANYONE tell me they regretted it afterwards. If anything, they are glad they took the risk of coming! For some people, it took a leap of faith to even find the finances to come and they actually fundraised for the trip. I can speak from personal experience on this one. I fundraised to go to Honduras in 2011. I was scared to death about it, and worried that I wouldn’t be able to meet my goal and go. I also felt really bad about asking people to donate. But I soon realized that for many people, financial giving is very rewarding for them to do, and especially for people they care about! I literally had the money I needed in 10 days, which was a miracle, and personally, confirmation that I needed to go. If you are intent on going and you need to fundraise, share your heart with potential donors and DO IT. It takes guts to fundraise, but it also a way to engage even more people in the cause you are supporting. Not everyone is meant to go on a trip, but everyone is meant to do something. Their support of your goal could mean the world to them, and coming back home with a picture colored for them by a little Haitian boy, or a bracelet handcrafted in Guatemala by a woman there can help them remember how they helped you to help someone else. We have a fundraising site to help you reach your goal!
4. Travel with us because…it will help you understand why we do what we do. Yes, we distribute shoes to people in need, and we all understand the importance of shoes, it an easy thing to for us to comprehend. Yes, you can donate your shoes here and collect shoes at a school or business for us, run a 5K to support us and get involved with Soles4Souls in many ways, and they are all equally important.
But when you drive through Port Au Prince, Haiti, and you take a bumpy side road to a small medical clinic where mothers and their children are lined up because they have been told they will receive new shoes and have these sweet little boys and girls come in to receive their shoes, often replacing their threadbare, totally destructed shoes with a brand new pair from us, you will understand.
When you go to a village in Honduras where the families receiving shoes keep opening up their shoeboxes just to make sure their new shoes were still in there, because they are in disbelief over their new gift, you will understand.
When you have a mother reach out and embrace you and smile from ear to ear and say “merci, merci” because not only did her child receive shoes, but she did as well, you will understand.
So, what are you waiting for? Register here and come with me!!