Thursday, July 31, 2014

How Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillpines Motivated My Family to Help

charity transportTyphoon Haiyan was on the news, in story after story. Another disaster half-way around the world that didn't hit home, and at first, relegated as one more disaster I could do little except feel empathy for the families going through so much. But then one story came through - a group of New Hampshire residents were flying out to help victims on the ground. My daughters, sitting next to me on the couch watched intently, then asked, "What can we do?"
NH Red Cross

 
It started simply. The news story suggested donating to the Red Cross to help fund relief efforts. I logged in to the site, and asked the girls how much they thought we should donate. "One billion," my youngest said. "That's too much," my oldest replied, pausing to think of a reasonable amount herself. "Five thousand." I explained how it would be wonderful to send such an amount, but we needed to think of paying our mortgage this month. With discussion, we decided $50 would do a world of good. When I clicked the send button, my youngest then asked, "What else?"

Typhoon Relief at Home
 
Both girls have been on a kick lately with donating old clothes and toys to different organizations in our community. They suggested boxing up items and sending it to the Philippines. I explained how the money would be a much better way to help with relief efforts. "But there's more we can do, right?" There was, but not by directly mailing out goods ourselves. The church organization that sent the folks to the Philippines needed clothes and toiletries, so my girls went to work. Between the two of them, they put together 4 boxes of items to drop off just by knocking on neighbor's doors - the same doors where only weeks before they were shouting, 'trick or treat!' When we dropped off the boxes at the church, my oldest looked disappointed. "There should be more," she said.

There would be, but not for the Philippines. We decided to use this horrible event to step up our efforts near home instead. Both girls scoured the house and built a pile winter coats, out-grown clothes and shoes, and toys in the living room. Together, we organized the piles into boxes, and loaded up the truck.

Winter Coats
 
This was a quick stop. Our local comic book shop was collecting coats to donate onward to New Horizons, a local charity that helps those in need in our community of Manchester, NH. The organization supports a homeless shelter, a women's shelter, a soup kitchen, and a food pantry. Once the coats were dropped off and the girls spent a few minutes browsing the shelves for Christmas ideas, we moved on to the next stop.

Goodwill
 
The toys and clothes were dropped off at our local Goodwill shop. We frequent the store a few times a week to drop off donations and look for small 'happies' the girls will play with for a bit before re-donating them the following week. Goodwill sells community-donated items at low prices to support their own community programs, helping those who are unemployed or going through addiction problems. We know our efforts will help those in need.

One Last Thing
 
hurricane relief
"We can do more," my oldest daughter commented as we drove away from Goodwill. "We will be doing much more in a week," I said. We have a scheduled month of giving back starting in December. "No, there's something else," she insisted. While donating the $50 through the Red Cross, she remembered the information about donating blood. "We can do that," she said. I could, but I explained she was too young. "We can hold your hands," she said. So it was decided. We stopped by the American Red Cross office in town and Daddy was hooked up to a collection bag. With the needle in my arm, the girls took turns sitting next to me to hold my hand in a comforting way, coming up with more ideas to help those in need.

At the end of the day, we felt we had done something to help others in need. The lesson wasn't lost, as the girls began planning what else we could do to help out those in our community.