Last night my friend Sarah spoke about how to serve refugees. Sarah volunteers with Lifting Hands International (LHI), a group dedicated to meaningful service to help refugees. Sarah and I have been friends for 13 years and I am so impressed with the amount of service she is doing.
Sarah has 4 children of her own who participate in about every sport imaginable, but she donates time to help those who need so much. She said her days did not become less busy, but they did become more meaningful. She doesn’t have more time, but she cherishes her blessings more deeply.
As I listened to her, I realized that maybe my children and I are missing out on the good things that come from service. I realize as moms we serve our families all day. But there is something about service for someone outside your family that just feels different. It brings blessings in a way that doing the dishes for the 454,343 time doesn’t (and yes, I’ve counted).
Here are three ways your family can get involved.
Help Set-up Apartments
Here in Arizona, LHI sets up refugee apartments. They provide furniture, kitchen and bathroom supplies, 1 week worth of food, and a hot meal for their first night. They even try to decorate the walls and provide a comfortable, welcoming home for the refugees.
Volunteers are needed weekly to provide the labor for apartment set-ups and to provide the food for the families.
My kids and I have helped set up apartments before. But I think it is time to make it a regular activity. I can tell my kids a billion times how blessed they are (and yes I counted that too) but when they see how much they have when others have so little, the impact is greater.
If you want to donate time to set-up apartments here in Phoenix, go here.
Las Vegas Area
If you live in the Las Vegas area, Sarah has worked with a group called Lighthouse Charities who desperately need volunteers. They are setting up apartments, providing new skills for women, and helping families. But they are having difficulties finding people willing to volunteer. Please consider giving of your time if you live in the area.
The warehouse here in Phoenix is always in need of donated items. This is a list of common household items they are always in need of:
- dust pans
- cookie sheets
- frying pans
- cleaning supplies
- twin sheet sets
- clear tape
- pencils, pens, and markers
- batteries: AAA and AA
Every charity that furnishes apartments needs gently used furniture including couches, tables, and chairs. They also need items for kitchens and bathrooms, cleaning supplies and common household supplies.
Think beyond what just your family can do. Create a neighborhood or school drive to collect items needed for the apartments. Scouts have taken the responsibility for furnishing an apartment as an Eagle project. Think of ways to get others involved to make an impact in the lives of these refugees.
LHI and charities like them accept donations for the work they do overseas. Currently, LHI is working to provide goats, yep goats, for families. These goats provide life sustaining milk for the families and a possible source of income. The program has a goal to provide 800 goats to families all across Jordan. Your dollars can help provide food and income to a family by buying a goat.
When we have donated before, we decided as a family what we were going to give up in order to donate to a charity. We have given up a month’s worth of pizza and another time it was our trips to get treats on the weekends. These are not life-shattering sacrifices, but they get my whole family involved. And I think it is important to feel a bit of a sacrifice when learning to give. It means more.
Or as a family, you could raise funds together by selling baked goods or having a yard sale. By involving my children in HOW to give to others, it certainly means more to them.
Why Should I Help?
“For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; Naked, and ye clothed me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” Matthew 25:35-36
According to the UN, there are 65 million refugees around the world. This is the largest refugee crisis ever; we must reach out and help those in need. As people of faith, we believe that it is our duty to help others. We are blessed with so much. Surely we can give our time and resources. This video talks about the crisis and our need to respond.
Sarah provided a list of agencies that are currently working with refugees all over the world. If none of these are in your area, look around. There are groups all across the world helping refugees.
I know that these agencies are mostly US based, but people read this blog from all over the world. Please add agencies helping refugees in your area of the world in the comment section below. Thank you!
Linking up with Trekking Thru.