I have had a few conversations lately about why I would choose to help people so far away from me (Sierra Leone Africa) instead of people right here in America. It is on my heart.. and it might help someone else make a decision to do something about what is on their heart.. so here it goes:
When I hear the words “every 20 seconds someone dies from water related illness”.. it grips my heart in a helpless way that I can’t explain. I picture my Natalie, Christopher, Emilie, Nathan, Bobby, or Kati having diseases that can be cured as simple as having a well to produce clean water, and I get ANGRY! I think of all the clean water we use.. to water plants, to clean dishes… and worst of all.. to flush our toilets. It is a problem that cannot be ignored.. I can not just sit back and say the problem is too big, so I will do nothing!
It happens to be that Sierra Leone is the world’s poorest country… and from the mouths of my friends that have visited over the past few years.. they will attest that there is a legitimate crisis for clean water! In the villages, they can’t go down the street and find a store to get a drink out of a water fountain. They can’t go to the local hospital and get an I-V because they are dehydrated. They walk miles every day to collect water that is contaminated. They usually don’t even understand that it is making them sick. I have a dr. friend that has visited 2 years in a row now and he said the best thing we can do is get the water wells dug. It is vital to the survival of the people. The difference is measurable in the villages that they revisit after the well has been dug… no water related illness there the next year!!!!!!
I have been asked, why do that instead of doing something local.
If that WAS all I was involved with, is that REALLY a BAD thing?
Each one of us has gifts… passions for different things. Circumstances in our lives that make us more sensitive to certain needs in our communities. Can you imagine how our world would look if we didn’t have people who cared about animals? or crops? or the environment? etc. We are lucky to have so many educated people in our communities that care about these things, and are working hard for us to enjoy the beauty, the food, the health care, the scientific discovery, and on and on. We have so much, so the responsibility is on us to find ways to share our wealth of knowledge and resources.
An opportunity came across my path when I first moved to Buffalo, to become a part of an organization who was trying to make a difference in this water crisis. Just a comment… “Have you ever thought about doing a yard sale?” turned into a life changing event for me. It became a way for me, someone who didn’t think she had much else to give financially, to become involved in something that my heart cries out to fix!
So why partner with “Let them LOL?” There are other organizations to partner with in this way… YES!!! fortunately there are. It is encouraging that there are more organizations doing the same type thing… but I happen to live around the corner from the couple who started this one.. and because of that, my heart is more connected with this group at this time. I am also drawn to the fact that at this time, LOL is managed 100% by volunteers, so I feel really good about the money I give being used for what it is collected for. But to be honest, even if up to half of it was going towards the projects… so that someone was paid to take care of the organization… my heart would still be very happy about it. It takes so much work to run something of this magnitude.
I am excited to find a way to help people here… and people far away. My heart is to NOT ignore the needs of the people around me… but to find ways to meet both!
We live in a land of stuff. Our trash is better than MANY countries best.
Many of us have so much stuff we have to rent storage sheds, add on rooms, and build garages to hold it all. We have more clothes than we want to mess with, and more toys than our children will ever play with. We have dishes and other household items that are in great shape, but we just don’t want to use them anymore because they don’t match the color scheme we are changing to. We have clothes that we just bought last month that our kids grew out of and they don’t even looked worn! We have some stuff with tags still on it, sitting in our closets and drawers.. forgotten and not being used. All of these things add up to many usable items that could be someone else’s “just what I was looking for!”
Not everyone in America is like that though. There have been a few years of my life, that if it weren’t for yard sales, I don’t know how I could have clothed and found shoes for my 6 kids. I know the joy I experience in finding just what I need at thrift stores and yard sales and clearance racks, to make my budget meet the needs of my family. I am thankful my children are being teachable and willing to wear gently used items and spend their money wisely. They love it when they find a pair of American Eagle jeans for a $1!
The LOL Yard Sales have turned into an amazing event for me. I have watched now for the past 3 years and seen over and over again, local families purchasing items that they need, want, and have been looking for, at a fraction of the cost they would at a store… and the money they spend on it go to help a family across the ocean receive a clean water well. I have seen families with obvious financial needs take home grocery bags full of shoes, clothing, and household items and giant smiles on their faces. I have seen a man rejoice openly when he found the double stroller they have been looking for… at a price he could afford. I have watched young children say, “this is the best day of my life” as they spend a few dollars and go home with toys that would have cost $100 in the store.
Helping people here in our community while we are helping others is a BEAUTIFUL thing to be a part of. With no extra effort, we are doing two things at once. Each shopper, those that donate time, energy, items, and money, all have a part in making a difference in this water crisis! Every dollar raised is bringing a well closer to reality to a village in desperate need. As I help organize the sales each year, I am overwhelmed with the chance I have to be a part of a beautiful community here in Western New York, who is willing to look into the closets, attics, basements, and storage bins of their comfortable homes, weed through their stuff and be generous as they turn their extras into water wells!
LOL Yard Sale Coordinator