Westport family plans “virtual” 5k 130 miles away

Donald Ross and his family will be walking to help protect innocent kids from human trafficking on Saturday, May 11. But instead of trekking five kilometers alongside the 2,000+ participants expected at the Free Them 5k/10k in Seattle that morning, they’ll be supporting the cause from 130 miles away in their coastal hometown of Westport.

Donald and his wife Debbie felt compelled to join the fight against human trafficking when they heard about World Concern’s Free Them 5k/10k on Spirit 105.3, which they stream via cable out on the coast.

Donald Ross and family
Donald and Debbie Ross, along with their 3 kids, will walk the Free Them 5k in their hometown of Westport, Wash. on Saturday, May 11.

“I have three kids—two teenage daughters. Something resonated with me. I thought, this is something I have to do,” said Donald. “[Trafficked] kids—they’re all somebody’s kids.”

Because they weren’t going to be in Seattle in May, Donald figured they’d take part in the event next year. When he went online to make a donation for this year, he saw the “Virtual” 5k option. A light bulb went on and he realized his family could register, fundraise, and still make a difference this year by walking near their home.

In hopes of getting others in their area involved, Donald secured the high school track the morning of the event, and asked Westport’s mayor, Michael Bruce, to officially start the race at 9:30 a.m. The Ross family, and others who join them, will run or walk “in spirit” alongside participants in Seattle.

Donald encourages anyone in the Westport, Ocean Shores, Grayland, Aberdeen, Hoqiuam or Raymond area to join them on Saturday, May 11 to take a stand against human trafficking.

Register as a “virtual” participant to join the Westport team, or to walk/run any time or place you choose. In doing so, you’ll help protect innocent women and children from the danger of human trafficking.

From one scarred hand to another

This week we received a donation of $60. While that might not seem worthy of its own blog post, it is. Trust me.

The check was sent by Kim Kargbo, the director of Women of Hope International, a fellow Christian nonprofit that helps women with disabilities in Sierra Leone improve their lives.  I called Kim to learn why another humanitarian agency would send us a donation instead of putting it toward their own programs.

The story she told me confirmed my belief that anyone, in any circumstances, can be changed by giving.

A few months ago, Kim and her staff held a meeting with the women they serve. They do this each month to talk about issues related to their disabilities and ways to overcome them.

These women live hard lives – most of them are beggars themselves, living on less than $1 a day. Women of Hope helps restore dignity and purpose to their lives through their programs.

“I really felt like the Lord was telling me to challenge them to look outside themselves,” recalled Kim. “To go beyond themselves, and he would bless them.”

Having heard about the famine in Somalia, Kim went online to look for a video she could show the women. She came across World Concern’s Eyewitness to the Famine video and shared it with them.

She also shared with them the story of the widow in 1 Kings 17 who was suffering in a drought and preparing her last meal when Elijah came and asked her for food. The widow trusted God and gave all she had, being promised, “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.”

The women were moved by the video and Kim’s explanation of famine. Most of the women are illiterate and some didn’t know that Somalia even existed. But they knew about refugee camps from their own country’s experience with war.

Then, Kim asked them a question. “If any of you didn’t eat today, would you die?” They all shook their heads, no. They might be hungry, they said, but they wouldn’t die. “Well, some of these people, if they don’t eat today, will die,” she said. “Do you think there’s anything you could do to help?”

This time they nodded their heads, yes. Even if each of them pitched in just a few coins, surely it would help a little. Kim agreed and told them that Women of Hope would match whatever they raised.

The women returned a month later for their Christmas party and had raised a bit of money, but not much. They wanted to do more. So they decided to take an offering that night. What happened next was amazing.

Sierra Leone donation
A blind woman in Sierra Leone is led forward at the Women of Hope International Christmas party to offer a donation to the famine relief.

About 50 women came forward to give. One by one, they lined up – blind women being led by the hands of children, and others in wheelchairs – to drop their few coins in a cardboard box.

At the end of the night, they had $30. With their matching gift, they were able to send $60 to World Concern.

“I know it’s not much,” Kim said when I spoke with her on the phone.

“Oh, but it is,” I said. We’ve been asking donors to give $60 to provide emergency food rations, access to clean water, and long-term assistance to a family affected by the famine.

“It’s perfect.”

Your End of Year Donation Matters

Humanitarian organization World Concern provides tuition for children in Kenya.
Humanitarian organization World Concern provides tuition for children in Kenya.

World Concern maintained a remarkable record of success in 2008, in a year with plenty of challenges. It is only by God’s grace and your support that we are able to reach families in need.

As you likely know, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 36% this year. Your finances are probably hurting.

It’s especially painful to hear about people facing retirement who realize it is just not possible. For me, it is only with great hesitation that I look at the status my family’s modest investments.

With that in mind, we prayerfully consider the choices made by our supporters as the end of 2008 quickly approaches. We rely on their generosity, especially at this time of year. We are thankful that many are able to supply the poor with a gift through humanitarian organization World Concern.

I spoke with Dave Eller, the President of World Concern, a moment ago, asking him what he would tell donors if they have any reservations about giving this year.

Dave said, “We are going to make the most out of their donation. We have been around, we are going to be around, and we are making a difference.”

He is right.

For more than 50 years, World Concern has responded to desperate needs in some of the most far-flung places on Earth. We have an outstanding track record, and 94% of donations (cash+gifts-in-kind) go directly to programs.

This was year of some significant achievements.

In 2008, we’ve helped cyclone victims in Myanmar rebuild their homes, mend their fishing nets and find work. We’ve walked with AIDS orphans in Kenya, showing them a better life through good health and education.  We’ve fed the starving in Haiti, as an out of control economy left families unable to provide for their children. And these are only a few mentions, from the 24 countries where we work.

Next year, we want to make more significant impacts in the lives of those we touch. We want to elevate people in Haiti and Myanmar to move beyond the crises – and receive job training and education. We plan to increase our investment in microfinance in Bangladesh, to allow women to provide for their families. We want to continue to play a role in freeing millions of people from parasitic worms.

Whenever possible, World Concern provides sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty, so that people can help themselves and teach others once we move on to the next project or respond to the next disaster.

John Beck, World Concern’s donor relations manager, enjoys this passage from Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message:

“Gently encourage the stragglers and reach out to the exhausted, pulling them to their feet.” – 1 Thessalonians 5.

That’s what World Concern does. We bring people to their feet, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

We pray that you will consider the poor this year, a year where you may even feel poor yourself. Know that your donation does matter. And on behalf of the 5.5 million people whose lives we touch, we sincerely appreciate your support.

Donate Now

Humanitarian organization World Concern provides seeds for farms and educates women about effective agricultural techniques.
Humanitarian organization World Concern provides seeds and teaches women how to farm.