Monday, November 5, 2012

Raising World Changers ~Boxes For Bracelets

I have always been a "change the world" kind of person. Do you remember that song by Michael Jackson? "Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race." My favorite line is, "We could really get there if we cared enough for the living." This was one of my theme songs growing up. Many of my conversations with friends and family were brainstorming how to "Change the World." My dad even asked me one day when I was in college, "What do you really want to do?" And I said, "Dad, I want to change the World. I want to change the world with love." I graduated with my degree in education with hopes to change the world one life at a time, although I think at the time I wanted to become the next Mother Theresa (I don't quite fill those shoes).

 I believe in a "whole world" view rather than a "United States" view. I have always grieved for the pain and suffering all over the world. I have always rejoiced with simple joys of anyone. In years past, I felt stuck as a mom....thinking that my years of "changing the world" were even pointless. Boy, did I ever have a limited perspective during those years.

More recently, I have plowed through, teaching my children to be world changers. I don't want my children to think that the world revolves around them and their abilities. I want them to view everyone else as more important than themselves. We use the word HONOR often in our house. We talk about what it means to honor each other...what it means to honor our community...what it means to honor our leaders and our country....and what it means to honor people all across the world. It boils down to one concept, "Consider one another better than ourselves." If we all have this perspective then our reactions to others will be out of love and consideration. I am not talking like, "oh...they are so much better than me; I will never amount to anything." I am talking, "you are so special that I consider all of your needs, hopes, dreams, struggles and want to honor and embrace them. I choose not to fight with you or take anything away from you; I choose to give to you over receiving for myself."

 You moms know how exciting it is when you see the fruit of your labor, and I started seeing it in my children right after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The day after, my son (5 at the time) prayed for Haiti, "Dear Jesus, please do not let Haiti fall down again." They wanted to help so they made magnets and sold them, raising over $50 (which was a smaller portion of a larger amount sent by the group they were working with). Then their Auntie and Uncle shared that they would be adopting a little boy from Haiti. Their hearts became infused with Haiti. They want to visit there, they want to send every extra penny they receive; they want to help in any way they can.

We heard about an organization called The ApParent Project through one of the blogs I follow: Sit a Spell. This is one of the best organizations I have seen, and we all wanted to do something to help. The ApParent Project employs the Haitian people to make jewelry, journals, clothing, Christmas ornaments, etc. This is HUGE for the Haitian people because an income helps keep their families together. Many of the orphans in Haiti are not in the orphanages because they have no parents; many of them were placed there by their loving parents because if they stayed at home, they would starve. Those that do not find a place in an orphanage are forced (out of starvation) to eat mud pies. You know the kind you made when you were a child....yes, they really eat them. To fill the hunger pangs in their bellies. Take a moment and try to imagine that.

The ApParent Project offers so much hope to the Haitian families that they employ. Each piece of jewelry is hand made by an artisan, and each piece has a significant story. And guess what? The jewelry is made out of: recycled cereal boxes, the very ones that we take to the recycling center every week. We have purchased many bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and ornaments, and we LOVE reading the stories that go along with each piece. The joy knowing that single mom can keep her 5 children because she has a job to go to everyday is hardly comparable to anything we know here.

Well, my 9 year old daughter asked me what we could do to help more. I glanced over the website and found that they take donations. Rays of Hope for Haiti has a container ministry, and they will receive and ship boxes for the ApParent Project at a fraction of the cost. If you have ever tried to ship something standard mail to Haiti, you know how expensive it is. Kaylynn was thrilled, "We can save our cereal boxes MOM!"

So in April, I helped her create a facebook page; she went to our monthly Homeschool moms connect night and shared what she was doing; she went with her auntie to various presentations in the area and shared what she was doing. She set up easily accessible drop off locations at the local libraries. The cereal boxes started pouring in. After only a month of collecting boxes, she sent over 300. We have another 300 ready to go. I love to see my children pouring their time and lives out for others. We continue to change the world in every way that we can, and sometimes, that is through collecting cereal boxes.

In October, Kaylynn had the opportunity to share her love with an even wider audience: The American Girl company. They ran a contest. Each girl submitted a 60 second video sharing why they feel like an everyday hero. Kaylynn does not brag (although I might just a little....because I am her proud mama) about what she does, nor does she spend time talking about her accomplishments. She helps out of a pure, loving heart. She was excited to share what she was doing with American Girl, and out of 1,700, she was chosen as one of the 6 finalists! Now, you have the opportunity to Vote to choose the grand prize winner (who will receive an all expenses paid trip to Washington DC). You can vote right on the American Girl website. Just follow this link, click to watch "Boxes For Bracelets," then hit the "vote for this one" button. Please only one vote per person/email account. We are so proud of her, not just because her video was chosen as a finalist, but because she has been the driving force behind Boxes For Bracelets (and she also worked very hard writing, acting in, and editing her video...all part of home schooling). We did not begin this journey with a contest in mind, but since she entered, the newspaper wants to interview her, more people are donating boxes, and we are raising awareness. This is such a tremendous blessing. She is a World Changer.

We have a generation that we can encourage to be world changers. Children LOVE to love people. They want to help others, they want to give of themselves. It is not until we are older that we decide that we want more for ourselves than for others. I can take a few minutes on my soap box because this is something that I am so passionate about. Take the time to teach your children how to encourage one another. Take the time to show them how to do it. Because we can really do it, "if we care enough for the living." (I cannot believe that I am quoting Michael Jackson). And when you are shopping for this Christmas (as it is coming), please consider neglecting Walmart and Target. Take the time to find a gift that will give directly back to someone who needs it. The ApParent Project has beautiful gifts, and you can read the story of the family that you are helping. Or even consider this, instead of giving gifts, give to purchase clean water or maybe even a goat for a family. Last year, my kids really wanted to buy two pigs and chickens for a couple of families so we did. Then, take that heart of giving, and transfer it to all year long. Send a donation of some beads or boxes or something else to an entirely different organization. Instead of buying that dollar item, put the dollar into a jar intended to help someone else. Let's be World Changers together and teach our children that it doesn't have to be difficult. Please share with me how you teach your children to love others. I would also love it if you would share info on any organizations that are committed to loving others. If you live in Maine and would like to start donating your cereal boxes, please let me know, and I can give you the address for a drop off location near you.