Category Archives: Fundraiser

Famine in the Horn of Africa

Back in 2011, there was a famine in the Horn of Africa. The famine killed thousands and disrupted systems in ways that have not yet been fully overcome. And now the region is facing famine once again. A famine is an extreme, widespread scarcity of food. Famines are usually caused by wars or environmental conditions that prohibit the growth of grass and crops, resulting in the death of livestock and eventually people. The famine that Eastern Africa is facing right now is caused by a drought that is killing off the vegetation and plant life.

The Horn of Africa is a peninsular region on the far eastern side of the continent, and includes the nations of Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. The famine right now is particularly bad in Somalia, a nation of 10.8 million people on the eastern edge of the Horn of Africa. In the north, Somalia is just over 20 miles from Yemen across the Gulf of Aden, so the culture is influenced by both East Africa and the Middle East. The environment is hot, and rainfall is normally irregular, though right now it’s pretty much nonexistent.

According to UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund), nearly 1.4 million children in Somalia are expected to be acutely malnourished this year. Obviously one can die from starvation, but malnourishment can also cause stunted growth, physical and mental impairment, and decreased immunities that leave children susceptible to life-threatening illnesses. Famine also causes people to leave their homes in an effort to find a better situation. This migration upsets education and tears families apart.

This situation is devastating and heartbreaking. Famine isn’t caused by laziness or bad choices, it’s just plain bad luck. And try as we might, we can’t bring back the rain. So while opportunities like education and access to capital are usually the best solution for poverty and hunger, in a situation like this people need an emergency handout to bridge the crisis period. Many of the world’s hunger relief organizations are on the case, arriving with food, water, and medical care to see people through this crisis. But the need is huge. UNICEF estimates 1.4 million children will be affected by acute malnutrition this year, but the adults who care for them will face the same challenges, so the actual number affected is probably double that.

There are three things that we can do from here to support Somalis during this crisis:

  1. Pray – Pray for rain to return to the Horn of Africa. Pray for those who are suffering. Pray for the missionaries and non-profits working to bring relief. Pray that donors and volunteers would step up the challenge.
  2. Give – Non-profit organizations have carefully fundraised budgets and planned programs to manage around the world. This crisis is an additional burden on their organizations. I’ve signed up to raise donations for Feed My Starving Children’s Somalia initiative this summer, and you can make a gift or learn more about that here.
  3. Volunteer – No, I’m not suggesting you fly to Somalia. In fact, I would discourage it. They don’t need more mouths to feed right now! But there are things we can do from here. Research organizations working in the country, and help them raise money. Use your social media following to raise awareness of the problem and the organizations working in the region. Some organizations even have ways that you can help hands-on. Here in the Twin Cities, FMSC is having a special packing weekend June 2-5 at the RiverCentre in St Paul to provide for this extra demand on their resources. I’ll be there packing on Sunday evening and Monday afternoon that week. If you’re in the area and would like to sign up to help, you can find that information here.

This draught and famine will eventually pass, but how many lives will be lost in the meantime? Do what you can, starting, and ending, with prayer!

If you know of other organizations working in the area, or other things that we can do to help, please leave a comment!

 

#FSFShoptober Roundup

During the month of October, I’ve been on Facebook, sharing ways that you can make a positive difference with your holiday shopping. As the month comes to a close, I’ve decided to use this week’s post to gather all that information in one place.

And don’t forget about the #FSFShoptober Giveaway! There is still time to enter. All you have to do is share any #FSFShoptober post on Facebook, and you receive one entry for each shared post. One lucky sharer will receive a fair trade gift pack, and a second winner receives a Nourish Hope necklace. Contest ends November 1.

 

Fair trade/ethical retailers:

Clothing:

AG Jeans – http://www.agjeans.com
Clothed in Hope – http://www.clothedinhope.org
Ethical WARES – http://www.ethicalwares.com
Fair Indigo – http://www.fairindigo.com
Fishers Finery – http://www.fishersfinery.com
Fresh Produce – http://www.freshproduce.com
Pact Organic – http://www.wearpact.com
Punjammies – http://www.sudara.org/collections/PUNJAMMIES
Marketplace Handworks of India – http://www.marketplaceindia.com
Sevenly – http://www.sevenly.org
Three Cords – http://www.threecordshaiti.com
Zady – http://www.zady.com
Accessories:

Clothed in Hope – http://www.clothedinhope.org
Ethical WARES – http://www.ethicalwares.com
FMSC Marketplace – http://www.fmscmarketplace.org
Joyn India – http://www.joynindia.com
Marketplace Handworks of India – http://www.marketplaceindia.com
Rahab’s Rope – http://www.rahabsrope.com
Ten Thousand Villages – http://www.tenthousandvillages.com
Three Cords – http://www.threecordshaiti.com

Housewares:

FMSC Marketplace – http://www.fmscmarketplace.org
Marketplace Handworks of India – http://www.marketplaceindia.com
Ten Thousand Villages – http://www.tenthousandvillages.com

Other:

Caribou Coffee – http://www.cariboucoffee.com
Zambeezi Lip Balm – http://www.zambeezi.com
Fair Trade Friday – http://www.fairtradefriday.club
 

Small businesses:

Create Hope Cuffs – http://www.etsy.com/shop/CreateHopeCuffs

Etsy sellers – http://www.etsy.com

Live.Simple.Soap – http://www.livesimplesoap.com

Made New Co. – http://www.etsy.com/shop/MadeNewCo

Multi-level Marketing or Direct Sales Companies – Fair Trade MLMs:
Sseko – http://www.ssekodesigns.com
Noonday Collection – http://www.noondaycollection.com
Trades of Hope – http://www.tradesofhope.com

Ruffly Buffalo – http://www.zibbet.com/therufflybuffalo

Scrappy Turtle – http://www.etsy.com/shop/ScrappyTurtle

Voice Jewelry by Hannah Kallio – http://www.hannahkallio.org

 

Tips and tricks:

Adoption Fundraisers

Amazon Smile – http://www.smile.amazon.com

Compassion Gift Catalog – http://www.compassion.com/charitable-gift-catalog.htm

Donations as a Gift

 

If you have a small business, a link for your MLM/Direct Sales page, or an ethical retailer that you love, leave a comment below! No sales pitches, just the name of the business, what it offers, and a web link.

(Spam, inappropriate links, politics, sketchy information, lengthy sales pitches, etc. may be removed at my discretion)

Organization Profile: Venture Expeditions

venture

If you have been reading Food Shelf Friday very long, you’ve heard me talk about the Hope for Dinner initiative. If you missed that, Hope for Dinner is a fundraiser for Venture Expeditions. Every year during the week before Thanksgiving and/or the week before Easter, families give up their normal evening meal and instead spend 5 nights eating rice and beans. The family gains awareness of life on a limited diet, and they save quite a bit of money on their groceries. That money is given to Venture Expeditions. That’s how my family became familiar with Venture, and I know some of you have participated in or read about that fundraiser. But what about the organization itself? What does Venture do?

Venture Expeditions started in 2002 when a group of guys from Northcentral University here in Minneapolis decided to bike across the country to raise money for a church in Argentina. They made it safely across the country and raised over $17,000 along the way. The second year, the group grew and the trip did to. In 2003 they biked across Europe and raised $23,000 for HIV/AIDS patients in Africa. It was clear that this program had legs. Or, um, wheels.

In 2006 Venture became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. They have continued to raise funds and awareness through physically demanding expeditions: biking, running, hiking, etc. They also hold an annual gala fundraiser and get support from individuals and churches through donations and fundraisers like Hope For Dinner. The money they raise provides for physical needs, fights for justice, and spreads the message of Jesus Christ. Today most of their work takes place on the Burma/Thailand border, one of the hardest to reach places in the world. They provide Feed My Starving Children’s Mana Pack meals to the hungry, education to children, and discipleship to anyone willing to learn about Jesus.

Venture has not yet been rated by Charity Navigator, but they will be soon because they just hit Charity Navigator’s threshold of raising at least $1 million/year. GuideStar gave Venture a silver award, which means that they feel Venture is committed to transparency in its operations. Venture uses less than 10% of the money they raise for operations, so over 90% of your gift goes right to work. They claim that a donation of $10 is enough for them to provide 100 meals, and $300 can educate a child for a year, or provide food, clothing and shelter for one child for a whole year. That’s a really good return on investment!

As you can see, Venture can do a lot with even a small gift. If you want to help, go to their website and click the “donate now” button. Or, if you’re an Amazon user, start signing in to Amazon through smile.amazon.com, and set Venture as the charity partner that will receive a portion of your Amazon spending. All the prices, selection, and Prime membership benefits are the same, and most Amazon products do generate a donation.

The timing of this post is no random chance. I have been working on an amazing, unique piece of jewelry – a joint effort between Food Shelf Friday and Voice Jewelry by Hannah Kallio. We can’t wait to unveil it (soon!). I know you are going to love it, and it will make a perfect Mother’s Day gift. The project will benefit Venture Expeditions, so I wanted you to have a good understanding of who they are and why I chose them for this project. Keep your eyes peeled (that’s such a gross metaphor…), I’ll probably be spilling the beans via Periscope this week and then on social media by next weekend. To find Food Shelf Friday on Periscope search @foodshelffriday (it’s an app, so I can’t just give you a link 😦 ). I’m absolutely giddy about this project and we have been working really hard on design, ordering materials, and preparing the marketing. It’s going to be great. Keep an eye on the FSF social media outlets (Links: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) for the announcement!

 

Have you participated in Hope for Dinner or one of Venture’s expeditions? Tell us about your experience!

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit…

beans

Happy Food Shelf Friday!

Last week I posted about Hope for Dinner, and this week I’m piggy backing on that post with some recipes and information to help us all prepare for next week’s rice and beans dinners.

Rice is the most universally known and consumed food in the world. It’s a grain, so a good source of cheap calories. It provides the body with carbohydrates and fiber. Brown rice is the same plant as white rice, just as wheat flour is the same plant as white flour, but the brown rice is less processed than the white and therefore retains more of the fiber you get from whole grains.

Beans are another of the world’s common staple foods. The name “beans” covers a whole bunch of different legumes. Beans are low in fat, high in fiber, and a good source of protein and minerals like iron and folate. Vegetarians and people who cannot afford much meat benefit greatly from beans because they provide those hard-to-find nutrients that most of us get from meat.

Rice and Beans, in one form or another, is a staple dish around the world. The varieties of beans and the seasonings may vary, but overall this dish is familiar and available in most of the world. It’s also cheap. Last year my family participated in Hope For Dinner, and we found Venture’s estimate that rice and beans will save $4 per person per meal to be pretty accurate. Our nutritional needs were met, we found some recipes that have become regulars on our menu, and we gained awareness (in a small way) of what it’s like for the poor of the world to eat the same thing day in and day out.

If you can’t stomach rice and beans, you can still participate!
– Swap your dinners for a week for Food Shelf Friday dinners
– Go meatless for the week
– Stay out of the grocery store for a week and eat only what you have on hand
– Pick another cheap meal, like meatless spaghetti, to eat all week
– Give up coffee shop treats or fast food

If you’re ready to join us for a week of rice, beans, awareness, and hope, check out my Hope for Dinner board on Pinterest. It’s full of rice and beans recipes you can try. Last year our menu included:
– 1 box of Zatarans Red Beans and Rice for the boys, and a Weight Watchers Smart One Santa Fe Rice and Beans meal for me on a day when I had to be at class after work.
Cheesy Rice and Beans from the Cheese Pusher blog
Best Ever Black Bean Soup with Cilantro Lime Rice from the Iowa Girl Eats blog
Panda Express Copycat Fried Rice from Food.com

This year I have a bunch of recipes pinned, and I’ll be deciding on a menu this weekend. Additionally, I’m looking for hands-on things my family can do during this week of awareness to expand our impact. We might pack meals at Feed My Starving Children, drop off some food at a food shelf, help sort and organize at the church’s food shelf, plan a food drive at work, etc. There are lots of great ideas, I just have to juggle them with J’s schedule as he has started the ski season.

Lots of great things we can discuss in the comments: recipe links, hands-on involvement, alternatives to rice and beans, etc. Let’s have a conversation! Leave a comment!

Hope For Dinner 2015

Hope for Dinner

In poking around for information this week, I ended up finding a new favorite verse:

Isaiah 58:6-9
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”

I don’t practice literal fasting – the principle of skipping a meal (or meals) to dedicate yourself to prayer – very often. Honestly, I become a total crab, and I don’t find that fasting from food creates any more space in my day to devote to prayer. It’s much more effective for me to fast from social media or TV – things that I usually waste time on. But this verse was eye opening for me. It reminds me of a famous quote from Gandhi, who said “live simply so others may simply live.” That’s the kind of fasting I can really get behind!

And that’s the idea behind Hope For Dinner.

For the week before Thanksgiving (November 16-20 this year), our entire church and families across the country will be trading their normal evening meals for simple rice and beans. Every evening. All week. Hope for Dinner (a fundraising arm of Venture Expeditions) says that by having rice and beans for dinner the average American family saves $4 – per person – per meal. So for my family of 3 that’s $12 per dinner times 5 days equals $60. It might not sound like a lot, but Venture, whose overhead is donated so that every penny coming in can go to feeding the hungry, can take $60 and turn it into 600 meals for starving children in some of the world’s hardest to reach areas.

I posted briefly about Hope for Dinner last year, too, and included some different ways that you can participate even if rice and beans is not your thing. Participating in Hope for Dinner last year was one of the inspirations behind my family’s weekly Food Shelf Friday. Another friend of mine feeds her family rice and beans every Monday night so they can start their week with awareness of how many people around the world live. It’s a beautiful kind of fast that loosens the chains of injustice and unties the cords of the yoke…feeds the hungry and provides for the poor.

Please join us in having Hope for Dinner this year! You can send your savings directly to Hope for Dinner via their website, so give it through Riverdale Church or Emmanuel Christian Center with the envelope and/or check memo marked “Hope for Dinner.”

http://www.hopefordinner.org
http://www.venture.org