I love so many things about moms coming together, and in addition to the benefits to us as women and to our families, we also can move mountains, break chains, and shine a light that radiates through our dark, dark world. Here are some ideas for your next group date that are fun for you and the kids, and will impact mamas and kiddos around your world and around the world.
I started following Sole Hope on Twitter, and after their eleventy-hundredth tweet about coffee, I decided they were totally fabulous. I met Asher Collie, the founder of Sole Hope, at a conference, and her passion for the people of Uganda is inspiring. Using recycled milk jugs and old jeans, Sole Hope enlists people here to cut shoe materials, which are then stitched by Ugandan stitchers in their employ.
The soles of the Sole Hope shoes are made from recycled tires, so the whole project from start to finish is upcycling at its finest, and life-changing for the kids and families receiving the shoes. The finished shoes slide onto the feet of children suffering from jiggers, a sand flea that lays eggs inside the toes.
Asher and her team train families in Uganda on how to safely remove jiggers, decreasing the spread of HIV and future foot trauma. I’ve thrown a few shoe parties for Sole Hope, and they are a fabulous way to get together with friends and make a difference for families in Uganda.
Sole Hope walks you through the process, which utilizes materials that you already have lying around your house. I love this process, because we get to enter into some seriously awesome work while gabbing with our friends. At one party, we sang show tunes and danced around, and at another, we had deeper conversations than ever before. As our hands stayed busy, we shared the stories of our lives, and it was amazing to get to know each other in a way that couldn’t happen just sitting in a circle and staring at one another. Put a pair of scissors in someone’s hands and she’ll tell you her life story. Love this.
Caring for Foster Care
My husband and I recently attended foster care training to find out more about how we can help kids in our own county. As I’ve spoken with foster moms, I’ve discovered that when a child goes into care, she arrives with very little, maybe a small trash bag of items. Can you imagine having strangers remove you from your home in the middle of the night and take you to a new house without any of your things?
One idea for a group date is to pack backpacks for kids coming into foster care. Collect backpacks, fuzzy blankets, pajamas, teddy bears, and other comforting items and get together with friends to assemble everything.
We have a group of foster parents at our church, and I’m working on putting this together with friends so that every time one of the families brings home a child, we can get a backpack to them.
Children love their names. They love hearing their names, seeing their names on signs, searching for their names. I think a powerful way to bless a child in foster care is to give him or her something personalized. One foster mom I know told me of a group that did a swimsuit and towel project in the spring, embroidering names on towels. Each child in care received an embroidered towel and a swimsuit just in time for summer. Water bottles are a great idea too, and you can use stickers or paint to personalize those as well. This is where Pinterest-loving moms can really shine. Go nuts and make it awesome.
If you’re interested in what you can do to help foster kids in your area, AdoptUSKids provides state-specific information. This organization offers resources for how to get involved with things like respite care, mentoring, and even helping with photography and videography. Foster moms work hard, and I love the idea of all of us mamas pooling together to support them and the kids they serve.
Cupcakes and Running
My friend works with an organization that advocates for child prisoners in Uganda. Due to lack of resources, children who come in contact with the law, whether they’ve broken a law or need care and protection, are taken into prisons and remain there until their cases are brought to trial or long-term solutions are established. Sixty Feet provides short- and long-term care and raises money for lawyers to go over and represent the kids in court.
Their mission is amazing and nothing to laugh at, but I can’t help snickering at her Facebook posts, because the two ways they raise money are through cupcakes and running. Anyone care to guess which one appeals to me? I “like” every cupcake post and try to scroll past the running ones before they rub off on me.
But within this one organization, Sixty Feet, we have two amazing group-date opportunities for our gamut of girlfriends. You can get together with friends, everybody bring their favorite cupcake recipe, and blow up someone’s kitchen with the power of flour. Then set up a cupcake stand and sell the cupcakes for Cupcake Kids. Pinterest moms, get your fondant on.
And then there’s the running. For you sporterrific friends, grab your girls, don matching knee socks, and head out to a 5K to raise money for children wrongly imprisoned. Run Sixty Feet will set you up with all the tools you need to make your kilometers count, and all the money you raise will go to help the kids in Uganda. Those of us non-sporties will watch your kids for you. Yeah, you heard me. I’d rather flippin’ watch everyone’s kids than run outside in nature.
If you have a group of friends that wants to get involved with helping orphans and vulnerable children, check out Children’s HopeChest for how you can all sponsor kids in the same orphanage or village and work as a group to make a difference in an entire community. As a Sponsorship Coordinator for HopeChest, I have the privilege of meeting and working with hundreds of sponsors for the kids in our program. These awesome people pay a monthly fee to provide nutrition, medical care, education, and spiritual support for the kids living in the village, with the long-term goal of sustainability so they don’t even need us anymore.
Paying the money is just part of it.
The relationship between sponsor and child is the catalyst for life change. These kids are amazing, and like the kids living in our homes, they need to hear that we’re believing in them, praying for them, and rooting for them.
One thing I hear from sponsors is the struggle to write letters. Many people aren’t sure what to write, and even I struggle with this sometimes, even though I’ve met my sponsored children several times.
Whether you sponsor a child through Children’s HopeChest or another sponsorship program, a fabulous group date activity is to have a letter-writing and card-making date. Lay out supplies and have ideas, sample letters, and topics on index cards around the room. You can have a kids’ table and an adult table or mix everybody together.
Make sure everyone arrives with the name, ID number, and location of their child, and make sure all cards and letters are labeled correctly. You can provide envelopes and stamps, or have people bring their own.
At the end of the date, you’ll have a big stack of love to send to some kiddos around the world. Follow your sponsorship program’s instructions for mailing the letters.
When mamas get together, we don’t just enjoy our lives more. We can make a difference in the world. One mom caring can change a family. A group of moms caring can change a community.
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Excerpted with permission from Women are Scary by Melanie Dale, copyright Zondervan, 2015.
Women can change the world! What are some of your favorite ways to gather your friends to do good? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Faith.Full