When tragedy strikes we all feel driven to help in some way.  Not only do we want to give aid, but we also want our children to find the peace and joy that comes from helping others in distress.  They see the news—the children crying, the parents crying.  They see the smiles that brighten their faces when help arrives, and they want to be part of helping those smiles happen.  But sometimes we feel helpless as to how our family can be part of the rescue.

Just seven months ago we sent out a plea in an article we wrote for Meridian Magazine to help the children of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka.  We were thrilled with the incredible outpouring that took place as a result of that article.  Tons of goods were sent by generous caring Latter-day Saints and their friends, and they were received by grateful Muslims, Buddhists, Catholics and others caring for orphaned children in that devastated land.  Hundreds of smiles were seen on the faces of these children the day the goods were delivered to their camps and schools.  Little did we know that seven months later we would witness another kind of devastation in our own country.  Katrina hit us hard and let us know how dependent we are on each other right here at home, wherever home may be.

The Church Instructions

The Church has issued a request for members to give generously to the Humanitarian Fund of the Church to help the victims of this hurricane. They encourage members to donate money instead of goods for this cause.  When we did the Tsunami relief project we needed hygiene and children’s kits, along with school supplies.  The needs for this disaster have changed from needing goods to needing funds.  The Humanitarian directors know what is needed and will use the funds to purchase the appropriate goods, which will vary depending on current needs. 

Operation Families for Katrina Aid

When we give money we sometimes feel that it’s too easy and that our children don’t experience the joy of giving like they do when they participate in a hands-on project, such as assembling kits.  Even if we have already given money, we can still help our children feel the joy of sacrifice by organizing our own family fund raising project. To help accomplish this goal we have organized Operation Families for Katrina Aid. Here’s how it works:

1) Hold a family council as soon as possible where you talk about the hurricane and the resulting needs. Immediate action is needed.  We are suggesting September 30 or sooner as a deadline for completion.  It’s amazing how fast a project can be organized and completed when the whole family is involved.  You may want to ask other families to join with you in your project.

2) Let your children know what our Church leaders have asked us to do to help. Instructions are clear on the Church Web site www.lds.org, Provident Living.  In part it states:

Funds are the immediate need. The Church often uses funds to purchase supplies near affected areas.

All are encouraged to pray for those who suffer as well as for those providing relief. Funds may be provided to the Church to support relief efforts by:

            • Mailing a check to:   Emergency Response Fund, Welfare Services, 50 East North Temple Street, Room 701, Salt Lake City, UT 84150

            • Donating online at LDS Humanitarian Services Giving Site: http://www.lds.org/ldsfoundation/welfare/0,7133,1325-1-9–cWELFAREPOSTER,00.html

            • Donating to fast offerings or to the humanitarian fund of the Church through your local ward.

            • Calling 1-801-422-3945 (for credit cards) or 1-801-240-7688 (for checks).

3) Ask your children for ideas on how your family can raise some money for the Humanitarian Fund.  Help them understand that even a small contribution will be helpful.  Following are a few ideas to consider.

• Bake “Katrina Care Cookies” (any favorite recipe) and sell them in the neighborhood, letting people know that all proceeds will go to help the victims of the hurricane.  Orders can be taken over the phone. 

• Set up a lemonade and/or popcorn stand with a large sign that says proceeds go to the hurricane victims.  Be creative by naming your drink “Katrina Quench” or your popcorn stand “Poppin’ for Katrina Kids”.  People who would not ordinarily buy from a stand will likely be drawn to do so for this cause.

• If you have older children, make and tie a “Katrina Care Quilt” of your own design and offer it for sale in the neighborhood or your ward. Maybe orders could be taken for more quilts and others could be enlisted to help make the quilts. If children have a way to earn their own money or if they have an allowance they can use some of it to help buy the materials. The need right now is not so much for quilts as it is for the money the quilts can make by selling them.

• If you have musically talented children, put on a home “Katrina Care Concert” and sell tickets, noting all proceeds go to the hurricane victims.  The stars do it, why can’t you.  Or maybe arrange with a store to play an instrument out front where people can toss money into a violin case or some container, like they do on the streets of New York.

• Go door to door with a “Katrina Care Kettle”and ask for donations to be placed in the kettle, explaining that all money will be sent to your church Humanitarian Fund for the victims. If they want to write a check make it to LDS Humanitarian Services or Emergency Response Fund (as noted on the Church site above).  We suggest you accompany your children and be ready to answer questions.  Make a handout flyer that explains your goal, if you wish. If people prefer writing a check to the Red Cross, take their donation and deliver it to your local Red Cross.  Church leaders encourage Red Cross support, if that is preferred.        

• Make and sell “Katrina Care Bracelets” out of beads or crocheted string.

• If your children are old enough, offer yard work and call it “Katrina Clean Up”.  Fall is a good time for clearing flower beds and gardens.  Let neighbors know the project is to earn money for the Katrina victims.

These are just a few ideas to consider. Once you and your family start thinking about it other ideas will come to mind. As part of your family council you could share a few scriptures about giving service, such as Mosiah 2:17: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God..” Or the story of the good Samaritan, Matt. 25:34-40.  This will invite the Spirit into your planning. Pray for the victims of the hurricane and ask the Lord to help you know what to do that will be most helpful. The Holy Ghost can be your guide as you go forth to help those in need. 

Report Your Project

We would like to track the participation in Operation Families for Katrina Aid and ask that you email us at gjlundberg@yahoo.com to let us know what your family project is and then follow up by letting us know what your family was able to accomplish and how it blessed your children.

We can keep your names private, if you wish, but request the name of your city and state. No donations are to come to us, only to the Church Humanitarian Fund or other humanitarian organizations.  By emailing us we can write a follow-up report in a future Meridian article.

Through participation in Operation Families for Katrina Aid your children can then feel the peace and joy that comes from hands-on helping when disaster strikes. 

[For more information on the Lundbergs and their work to help strengthen families and marriages, visit their Web site at http://www.garyjoylundberg.com.]