Daily Archives: June 9, 2010

Walking the talk

Back in January, there was a major disaster in the world. Perhaps you heard about it? There was lots of media coverage.

This isn’t a trick question. I’m talking about the earthquake in Haiti.

Lots of attention was paid to the disaster, and lots of money was paid to charities and other support groups trying to help. And that’s great. People were helping other people, as they should.

In February, I was talking to a missionary involved in aid to Haiti. Media coverage was still in place reporting on the difficulties aid groups were having there, but the missionary told me that in just a few weeks their income had fallen back to pre-disaster levels. That surprised me a bit, though I suppose it shouldn’t have. Especially while the media was still on the scene, I expected that charity giving would remain increased for a while longer. But in general we are a people with short attention spans.

Don’t get me wrong… a huge influx of money was needed immediately, and the one-time gifts people provided were excellent. It just occurs to me that most of us, myself included, probably come across an emergency and throw our attention and money at it quickly, and then back away, almost as quickly. We ignore that the problems continue for the long term. Our attention frequently goes back to ourselves and our relatively comfortable lives.

I admire the people who take a longer term approach to helping those in need.

Yes, the disasters need our immediate, extra attention. But the aid organizations are still there helping long after the disasters have moved to the backs of our minds. And then there are the organizations working in impoverished areas, who make a difference day-in and day-out in areas with perpetual problems, where just a little bit of constant income can make a huge difference. I’m thinking primarily here of organizations that help children, such as Compassion International, among others. Sponsoring a child is not much more than a pittance of our first-world incomes, and yet so few of us make that commitment.

And aid isn’t just needed for the third world. Sometimes the disasters aren’t on a global scale, but affect a single family. An online friend of mine is involved in a fund raiser for a charity that supports those with the more personal disaster of the loss of a child. I’ve never met the man in person, but I’m very impressed with the work Dan has done in support of the Joseph Salmon Trust. In an extremely literal way, he’s walking the talk. He’s organized a group of people from many countries to walk across the entire breadth of England on the Hadrian’s Wall walking path to raise awareness and funds for the Trust. The Hadrian’s Walk web site describes it as follows:

In July of this year 60 people from all over the world are coming together to walk the 84 mile length of the Hadrian’s Wall Footpath. They are doing this in aid of The Joseph Salmon Trust, a charity founded by our friends in memorial to their son Joseph who died aged 3 in April of 2005.

The Joseph Salmon Trust supports parents who have lost a child by providing financial assistance to those who need it most. This may be to help with funeral costs, or maybe to enable the self employed some time off work in order to grieve.

People helping other people in their hour of need. Are you helping others, or are you holed up in the bunker of your own life? Not everyone can give money, but are you doing what you can? Are you volunteering in your local community? If you have frequent flier miles, would you consider donating them? If you can give even a little bit, are you? Do you think about it, but never quite get around to it? Why not do something right now? The small list below is certainly not even close to exhaustive, but they’re all charities I have some trust in and who are doing good work to help others. And they all need your support. Even if you don’t have the ability to contribute right now, click through and learn a bit about the organizations, and spread the word. Remind people that help isn’t only needed for the big disasters, but year round.

Charities to consider:

  1. Compassion International – make a one-off donation or sponsor a child for just $38 per month
  2. Salvation Army
  3. Red Cross
  4. Hadrian’s Walk (in support of the Joseph Salmon Trust) – you can buy a Buff (versatile headgear, as seen on Survivor - limited edition, even), or enter a raffle for a European vacation (if you live in the UK)

If there are other charities you trust and want to let others know about, please tell us in the comments.