Eighteen months ago I sat in a white truck driving through the crowded streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
It was a type of crowded that makes our sense of crowded seem silly. Even Times Square at night simply cannot rival this intense density of people. Men and women and children and animals everywhere – on the streets, sidewalks, sitting in buildings, and on and on. But as we were driving my eyes locked eyes with one man. He was a man, maybe twenty-five, laying on the sidewalk, and he had the most pained look in his eyes I had ever seen.
I knew he was starving.
Somehow, deep down, I knew that the vacant and hollow look was starvation. As the truck pulled away through the crowds of people I felt helpless.
But friends, listen.
They stopped to help him. One after another after another after another. Giving him money. Putting food in his hands. Sitting and talking. As we pulled away it made me think and ponder our responses. Why don’t we stop? Why don’t we help?
My Haitian guide, after I asked why everyone stopped, told me because we all know we are just steps away from that being us. They saw people as not just people but as those that they can help.
And so here we are. The holidays. And it’s super easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the busy – the shopping, parties, food buying, present wrapping, caroling, and more. And in that busy sometimes we can lose track of those in need around us. Especially those that are hungry. I saw hunger firsthand in Haiti.
There is hunger here too.
And it pains me to think that in our busyness that we can sometimes forget about those that are in need and hungry around us.
Listen. There are families not only in need but also hungry. One out of every five children goes to bed hungry. That number is astronomical friends. That is here, not in Haiti or Africa or another place that we stereotypically think there are issues with hunger.
Those children are here. They are hungry.
It makes me so happy and thankful to write this post because it’s about ways in which we can help those in need. I am so picky about what I write about because I want this place to be a site about finding joy and motherhood and intentional living and knowing that we make a difference in this world. This is a way that we can make a difference.
We can help, friends, we can help.
Here’s the thing. I want my kids to know that the holidays aren’t simply about presents and iPods and Wii games and Legos and Christmas cookies with Royal Icing and candy canes. This time of the year I want them to appreciate what they have – and the food on their table – and to learn how to give back.
So make it real.
Give back. Buy extra food at the grocery store and put it in the cart. Put money in the Salvation Army Buckets. Volunteer. Organize a food drive. Create awareness. Don’t make this a time of me me me. But rather, rather, lets be like they were in Haiti – let’s be a culture of women who decides that we love those around us. But let’s go beyond that – let us work together to raise children who don’t look the other way but instead have hearts of compassion and want to give back. Talking about ending hunger isn’t something that should be hidden – it’s something that we should not only talk about, but if we can, we should give back.
That, to me, is what matters most.
Thank you, my friends, for reading this post and supporting this cause. I believe strongly in it and I value each of you. And if you are hungry or in need, please do not ever feel shame about being in this place. Instead reach out to those around you.
Please. Watch this video. This is perspective.
Tears. Tears. Tears. How can we look away? These are our children. The children that I write about here. Children of moms trying, trying, trying. We simply cannot be still, friends, we cannot look away. We must bend down, look at our lives, and do what we can.
Now, what can we do to end childhood hunger?
Don’t those statistics blow your mind? There are 16 million children living in hunger. We may be just one person, but one person times one person times one person can make a HUGE difference. Please volunteer. Give. And share.
Not only what you do as a family, but with others.
We can make a ripple of change.
I believe it.
About SheKnows’ Hatch, the Hatch Hunger Project and Unilever Project Sunlight:
SheKnows’ Hatch teamed with Unilever Project Sunlight to help families build awareness and take action around child hunger in America. The facts are startling: 16 million kids living in the United States don’t know where their next meal is coming from. That equates to one in every five children – enough to fill 18,000 school buses and 223 football stadiums. On average, those who live in food-insecure households have only $36.50 to spend on groceries every week. That means that 80 percent of children may not understand the everyday struggle their peers – many of whom could be their own friends or neighbors – confront when there’s not enough food on the table. The Hatch Hunger and Project Sunlight video and workshop aims to create empathy by showing kids what it means to shop for healthy, filling meals for an entire week on a thrifty budget. It teaches important math and teamwork skills. Finally, it is about action, empowering kids to have a positive impact on their community to Share A Meal with a family in need and donating food and canned goods to local food banks.