Tag: Kindness Changes Everything

How to help and stay calm during the COVID-19 pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the world, fear and anxiety are on the rise. With so much unknown, it can feel like everything is out of control and there’s nothing we can do. However, here are some things you can do that can help both alleviate your fears and bring some hope to the rest of the world. 

LOOK FOR THE HELPERS

Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Convoy of Hope has committed to provide at least 50 truckloads of emergency food and water — approximately 2 million pounds of relief supplies — to people most affected by the coronavirus. This work is being done through local partners helping offset school lunch needs caused by prolonged cancellations within their school districts. Do some research into organizations who are out there working to alleviate the effects of the pandemic.

VOLUNTEER

If you are sick, just not feeling well, or in the high-risk category for COVID-19, please stay home! However, if you are healthy and considered low-risk, there are likely many food banks and groups in your area that could greatly use your help providing supplies and assistance to those in your community. Contact your local chamber of commerce to learn if it is safe to help and how you can do so. 

SUPPORT LOCAL, SMALL BUSINESSES

This is a difficult time economically for everyone, but it’s especially difficult for small businesses. Do some research into local small shops that sell things like soap and cleaning supplies. Find local restaurants that may be offering delivery, drive-through, or curbside services. Stay social, even from a distance. Buy gift cards to stores you like — this gives them a boost now and you have a reason to treat yourself later when it’s once again safe to go out and shop. 

STAY INFORMED, NOT OVERWHELMED

There is A LOT of information and conversation out there about COVID-19. Unfortunately, not all of it is true or helpful. Make sure your information is coming from a trusted source. Convoy of Hope is providing a safe place for information at convoyofhope.org/coronavirus

Also make sure that you’re not overwhelming yourself with information. You could read updates on the pandemic for days if you wanted to, but that is not mentally or emotionally healthy. So stay informed, but make sure you are not spending all your time focusing on it. 

Remember to take a deep breath and hold tightly to hope in this time of heightened fears. You may have to stay home right now, but your kindness does not!

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Join the Convoy

A Mother’s Story: Hope and smiles came to Emma’s family

On an unseasonably cool day in June, Emma entered a local rodeo arena with her sons Anthony and Gabriel, unsure of what she’d find. They weren’t there to see broncos or bull riders; Emma had heard about an event that could help her overcome the struggles she and her family were facing.

Month after month, the bills would come due. Sometimes she and her husband could make it, but other times they found themselves at a local food bank. Their lives had changed dramatically when they had Anthony. Anthony, who has special needs and is in a wheelchair, has to regularly visit a special doctor whose office is two hours away. Every drive costs the family what few resources they have.

“We can’t do anything else,” says Emma. “For instance, I need to build the access ramp for him [Anthony]. But I can’t do it.”

For those like Emma living in vulnerable communities, life can spiral out of control quickly through no fault of their own. The cushion to absorb unexpected costs is thin at best. Because of that, even small wins can become life-changing experiences. 

For the past 25 years, Convoy of Hope and an army of volunteers has been serving across the United States, and now around the world, through Community Events. These events provide critical services that are often unreachable when money is tight. 

“We bring together churches, service providers, and people from all over the community,” says Convoy of Hope’s Jason Bachman, who led the event that Emma and her family attended. “It creates a platform for existing organizations, who sometimes aren’t even aware of each other, to come together and serve. These events create opportunities for the novice and the expert to come together to serve their cities.”

When Emma and her kids entered the grounds, volunteer greeters welcomed them to each tent. Gabriel bumped along in his stroller as Anthony hurried to grab a new pair of shoes at the Children’s Shoes tent. A volunteer helped him get fitted, and he proudly held up his new sneakers after pulling out the crumpled paper stuffed in the toes. These were new shoes. His shoes. 

Anthony impatiently zipped toward the Kids Zone. He drove his wheelchair to the sloped entrance of a bouncy castle where he was met by a volunteer who obviously didn’t know who she was dealing with. Not to be slowed down, Anthony thrust his body forward. He landed on his hands and knees and stormed the castle. His face exuded pure joy as he jumped around that inflatable castle just like the other kids. With his body in midair, Anthony smiled and shouted for his mom. Emma smiled like any parent, thrilled to see her child so happy.

“Poverty is stressful,” says Bachman. “And I think that our Community Events give people a break from that. On that day, people can let go of their problems, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.”

As Emma and her family walked the grounds, the Health Services tent caught her eye. She noticed representatives from Anthony’s children’s hospital, so she stopped to talk with them. Taking as much time as her kids would allow, she began to craft a plan with the hospital.

Weeks after the event, we caught up with Emma to see how she and her family were doing. As she shared her progress over the phone, pots and pans rattled in the background as she prepared lunch for the kids. “Since the event we’ve been doing good,” she says. “Visiting the [children’s] hospital really helped.” The arrangements she made with the hospital at the Community Event had already saved them hours of driving and extra travel expenses. That connection likely wouldn’t have been made without the Community Event and the volunteers who made it happen … together.

 

*This story originally appeared in issue 15 of the Hope Quarterly which can be read here

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Community Outreach / Field Story

Five Ways to Make this Your Kindest Year Yet

1. Set up a recurring donation, and budget for it.

Find a cause that you’re passionate about! At Convoy of Hope, we offer opportunities for others to help women in developing countries start their own business, feed children that don’t have access to regular nutritious meals, respond to disasters around the world, support communities across the United  States, and offer opportunities to the working poor. Donating to an organization you care about doesn’t have to break the bank, either. Determine a budget and stick to it. Every donation — no matter how large or small — can make a huge difference. Through Convoy of Hope, just $10 can feed a child in need for an entire month.

2. Volunteer!

Whether you live in a big city or a small town, there are needs in your community. Contact your local U.S. Chamber of Commerce to learn how you can get involved with nearby organizations. Or visit your favorite charity’s website, to find out how you can help. At Convoy of Hope, there are lots of opportunities to volunteer at one of our Community Events. We also offer the chance to volunteer at our World Distribution Center in Springfield, Missouri, every Tuesday night.* Visit convoy.org/get-involved to learn more. 

3. Buy from brands that give back. 

When you go to the store, how do you choose which brands to buy? Taste? Price? Packaging? What about the brand’s impact on the needs of the world? Convoy of Hope has great corporate partners that are helping us spread hope. By shopping their stores or buying their products, you can help support us! Brands like Hello Bello, Hormel Foods, and Home Depot are just a few that help us give back to those in need. You can learn more about how your favorite brands give back by visiting their websites.

4. Hunt for kind opportunities.

You can find ways to show kindness every day. You just have to keep an eye out for them! Hold the door open for someone, let another driver into your lane in traffic, or buy someone’s meal at a restaurant — each day brings you new opportunities to show kindness to those around you. Today and every day, do the next kind thing in front of you. 

5. Build a kindness team.

Challenge your friends, family, or coworkers to join you in your kindness crusade! Invite someone to volunteer with you or see who can do the most acts of kindness for a month. When you encourage others to join you in spreading kindness, your reach extends even further! 

 

*These events are on a break until January 21, 2020.

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Inspiration / Join the Convoy / Volunteering

Earth-Shaking Hope in Haiti

In early 2010, I was working for Convoy of Hope in Haiti. Things were normal. I was finishing up hosting guests from the U.S. and waiting for a Field Team to arrive two days later. But late that afternoon, as I stood on the balcony of a friend’s home, everything changed. 

My memories of the January 12 earthquake are ones that will always be with me. I’ll never forget the sound of moving earth and crashing buildings. Of mothers wailing in the street. Of the look on peoples’ faces as they tried to process what was happening. 

Although my assignment at Convoy of Hope was not for Disaster Services, I found myself at ground zero for one of the largest natural disasters to hit the Western Hemisphere. I pushed through my mental haze and began working with our partners in Haiti to assess the situation, determine food inventory, and identify a base of operations for in Port-au-Prince. 

Thankfully, within 48 hours of the shaking, I was welcomed by the sight of my Convoy of Hope colleagues crossing the tarmac of the airport. They brought a sense of calm that I hadn’t felt since the ordeal began. I was eager to step out of the way and place the reins of the response in their very capable hands. 

We all witnessed the sadness and desperation that took hold throughout the island in the days and weeks that followed. It got so bad that many families were forced to place the lifeless bodies of their loved in the street to be collected and placed in mass graves. 

But we also saw the amazing power of hope. A strength rose up in the Haitian people, who had already endured so much, and they picked themselves up and moved into their new “normal.” The overwhelming global response to the calamity showed them that they weren’t ignored or forgotten. They would make it.

When the earthquake struck, Convoy of Hope and our partners were already invested and committed to Haiti and were feeding more than 13,000 kids every school day. The overwhelming need after the earthquake propelled us forward and forced us to fast track our plans in the country. In 2019, we are feeding more than 90,000 children in Haiti. 

Tragedies don’t often give people the chance to do anything but survive. That’s why we hope to look beyond the immediacy of a disaster and toward a day when survivors can participate in the rebuilding of their communities. That’s what Haiti has been for us. We were honored to come alongside Haitians and serve when they needed us most. But we’re most proud of when they came back alongside us as participants … as partners on Haiti’s journey. 

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Children's Feeding / Disaster Services / Field Story

Hope for the Holidays

As 2019 comes to a close, families around the world are preparing for the upcoming holiday season. For many of the 200,000 children in Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding program, the hope found in a warm bowl of food each day may be the only gift they receive. The support they receive from supporters like you is what makes the holidays so special.

Nine-year-old Olvin is one of the 11,000 children whom Convoy feeds in Honduras. When he’s not caring for his chickens or attending classes, he is most likely playing soccer with his friends. But the thing he loves most about going to school?

“The food is good!” Olvin says. “Sometimes they give us soup. They give us rice and eggs, too.”

Through Convoy of Hope’s Children’s Feeding program, Olvin receives the nutritious meals he needs to stay healthy and focused. Since starting the program in Honduras in 2011, Convoy of Hope has partnered with more than 100 Honduran communities.

While many are preparing shopping lists and putting up Christmas trees, Olvin’s family is looking forward to their own holiday traditions.

Olvin lives at home with his parents and two younger brothers. His father works long hours, and his mother, Ivania, runs a small business that Convoy’s Women’s Empowerment program helped her start. For them, the added support they receive from Convoy has been the glimmer of hope they desperately needed.

“Normally, we can’t give the kids gifts for Christmas,” says Ivania. “But this year, we will be able to give them gifts.”

Like many families, Olvin’s is looking forward to the Christmas season, because everyone is together and they attend church as a family. Ivania loves to prepare the holiday menu, which includes chicken, rice, potatoes, and bread.

“This year is going to be different from other years, though,” Ivania says. “This year, they will get new clothes for Christmas, and I can add a little something to the menu.”

As Convoy of Hope looks back on the last 25 years, we are humbled to be a part of empowering so many families and their communities. While many will struggle to keep food on the table this holiday season, Convoy of Hope continues to fight for the poor and suffering in hopes that families everywhere can “add a little something to the menu.”

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25 Stories That Shaped Convoy of Hope / Children's Feeding