You’re walking, driving, working or somehow moving steadily along towards the next destination in your day and a small, quiet yet pervasive thought creeps into your mind: “help that person.” It happens to all of us. The person may be friend, family, co-worker or a stranger; and for some spontaneous reason, you have been presented with the notion to make one moment in their life a little bit easier.
Hal Donaldson, our president and co-founder, spoke to a group of Rotarians in Springfield, Mo., this week and he charged them as follows, “Seldom resist the impulse to do something kind.”
Next time you think you should be kind to someone, you’re probably right.
When I was 2 years old, my dad, Hal Donaldson, and his brothers founded Convoy of Hope. Since then, Convoy has grown significantly and yet its foundation and core values have remained unchanged. For as long as I can remember, my parents instilled in my sisters and me the importance of demonstrating kindness, practicing generosity and serving those in need. Learning this at an early age has shaped us into the young women we are today. It has given us an understanding that Convoy of Hope is not what we are, but rather who we are as a family—the very core and mission of our daily lives.
Whether volunteering in the warehouse, distributing groceries at a community outreach, or traveling internationally, taking part in the work of Convoy of Hope has shown me what it means to put compassion into action. Every person I’ve encountered, every warm embrace I’ve shared and every tear shed while serving has helped to transform my life.
Even though poverty and malnutrition continue to threaten our global community, we cannot allow these harsh realities to paralyze us and deter us from action. Rather, we must offer lasting hope to those in desperate need of love and care.
As Convoy of Hope celebrates its 20th year anniversary, I am reminded that the organization has grown beyond its humble beginnings. Today it is a part of a global movement that is helping millions of people each year.
On behalf of my family—and all those who work so diligently—I want to thank you for partnering with us and believing in the mission of Convoy of Hope. Together, we can change the world one life at a time.
In the video above we asked third and fourth graders two very important questions, “what is kindness and can you bust a move?”
In January, our co-founder and CEO, Hal Donaldson told Missouri’s leaders, “A year of kindness and compassion can absolutely change everything.” Here at Convoy of Hope, we adopted the idea as our theme for the entire year. At the beginning of February, our communications team decided we wanted to put it to the ultimate test—by spreading kindness.
We started by going on college campuses and giving students free hot chocolate, cookies and cards that read, “Kindness Changes Everything.” Many students asked, “What’s the catch?” In today’s society, rarely anything is “free.” When we explained we were simply there to spread kindness and encourage others to do the same, their reactions changed. Ellie, a student at Missouri State University agreed to our kindness challenge. “There’s never been a time that being kind made me feel bad,” she said. “People forget that we all go through the same things, so it’s important to be nice.”
We continued this experiment at Drury University, Evangel University and Ozarks Technical Community College. We had similar responses everywhere we went. Rebecca, a senior at Drury received the treats and went on her way. Shortly after, she returned to our table. “You just don’t see something like this very often so I had to come back and say thank you,” she said. “I’ll definitely pass on the kindness.”
Our next goal was to share kindness with a local Title I school. “Title I” defines schools that qualify for federal aid based on higher percentages of disadvantaged children. We hosted a party for these kids at our World Distribution Center in Springfield, Mo., to simply give them the opportunity to let them have fun, be kids and get inspired about helping others. We did tours of our operations, brought in pizza and had a magician teach a lesson on character education. At the end, we surprised all the children with new shoes.
Many of the kids immediately put their shoes on and started dancing around. Their teacher explained to me that many of the kids only had one pair of shoes before today.
Another little girl was overheard saying, “Now I have shoes to wear for basketball!”
When it was time for the kids to leave, we gave them a similar challenge. “Go be kind.” The kids cheered and agreed they would practice the lessons they had learned and would help share kindness with others.
Over the past month, I have been personally moved by the responses to kindness in our community. As Mother Teresa once said, “Everyone can do something.” By making a small effort with a small group of people and encouraging them to pass it on, maybe kindness really can change everything.
Some people are naturally kind. For the rest of us it requires some intentionality. Here are five simple ways to be kind today:
1. Thank someone from long ago.
There are some key people that made a difference in your life long ago that you are no longer connected to. Find them (it’s easy now) and simply thank them. In 2014 we are celebrating 20 years of helping people around the world. Without a doubt, it could not have happened without others doing something memorable for us along the way.
| Did you know our very first tractor-trailer was donated to us?
2. create a homeless Care kit.
About a year ago I got tired of not having a simple way to help homeless people I often saw on the side of the road. So I decided to put together a ziploc bag full of items that could be ready in my car. Each gallon ziploc bag contains:
2 bottles of water
2 granola bars
$5 Fast-food gift card
Travel toothbrush & paste
Hand warmers (in Winter)
It’s a simple, effective, no-excuse way to be kind to someone facing hard times.
3. Drive-thru difference.
Perhaps you’ve heard of it, but have you done it? A Springfield, Mo., radio station and partner to Convoy of Hope, 88.3 the Wind, encourages people to simply buy the meal for the car behind them in the drive-thru. Try it, you never know when it will be a difference maker for the person behind you.
4. Donate your stuff.
Chances are you have too much stuff. I do. See what you can give away. Inclined to sell that $20 old lamp? Donate it instead.
5. Change your routine.
I tend to not do what I don’t schedule time to do. Make helping in your community a regular scheduled activity. Plan for the extra time it might take you to swing by and pick up coffee for a co-worker.
Stuff fails, institutions fail, teams fail, investments fail and people fail, but love never fails. Love is like a fire that won’t go out. It is steady, warm, helpful and glowing with hopeful light for life’s path.
Convoy of Hope has a list of core values that guide our path as an organization. At the top of that list is “love,” more specifically unconditional love. So, on Valentines Day we’re challenging our friends to kindle that kind of love with random or planned acts of kindness towards people they do or don’t know.
How are you or a group you’re a part of showing unconditional love this year?