Monday, July 26, 2010

Starfish Throwers

I am always amazed at how one creative idea or one compelling story, can inspire people to take action.  I've seen it time and time again, as sponsor families start thinking about creative ways to raise money for the kids at Kind Hearts and Trees of Glory - or ways to advocate and spread the word.

The "starfish thrower" story is one of my favorites, and yet I still marvel at the simple and profound truth behind that analogy.  The story goes ...

"Once upon a time, there was an old man who enjoyed taking walks along the beach.   One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a small boy moving along the beach like a dancer.


Curious about what the boy was doing, he walked faster to catch up.  As he got closer, he could see that the boy was not dancing at all. Instead, the boy was intently and methodically reaching down to the sand, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

The old man came closer and with curiosity he called out, "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The boy paused, looked up, and replied very matter-of-factly "I'm throwing starfish into the ocean."

"Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the man.

To this, the boy replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them back, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the old man replied, "But, young man, don't you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

The boy pondered this for a moment ... and then he bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "I made a difference to that one!"

When I first read that story, I found myself agreeing with the old man and thinking, "what a sweet gesture, and yet how fruitless." And then comes the startling statement of truth ... "I made a difference to that one!"  


And to that one, it means EVERYTHING!!!!

In the past few years, since adopting our two sons from Ethiopia, and working with Children's Hopechest to sponsor two care-points in Ethiopia with 152 orphaned children, I have met a lot of star-fish throwers! And each time - I am inspired and awed anew.  


I have learned that if we focus on the "one" we end up making a difference for many.  Whereas, if we focus on the many, we are sometimes paralyzed by the magnitude of the need, and so we do nothing.

I want to introduce you to a "starfish thrower" named Samantha, who is 11 years old.  Her family is in the process of adopting a 4 1/2 year old little boy from Ethiopia, and they also sponsor a child at Kind Hearts care-point in Ethiopia.  Samantha was concerned about the children at the care-points, and when she saw the photos on my blog that I took in Ethiopia last December - the photos of the ragged shoes worn by the kids at the care-points - she wanted to do something about it.





Her mom, Robyn, contacted me and explained that Samantha was hand-crafting bottle-cap necklaces and selling them for $5 each.  So far, she had raised $125 and she wanted to give it to the kids, so they could have shoes.  That same day, another sponsor contacted me, wanting to do something more for the kids.  She wanted to start with $300 for shoes.  So with that "seed money" I posted on my blog that we were kicking off the shoe fund with $425 - and within 24 hours, we had over $1,600 (one family even gave enough to buy 61 pairs of shoes!!!!)  ALL 84 kids at the Trees of Glory care-point, will now have shoes!

And it all started with one, 11 year old "starfish thrower" named Samantha, who didn't stop to consider that the odds were against her and her endeavor.  She is still selling bottle-cap necklaces and is continuing to raise money so that when more kids arrive at the care-points, they too will have a brand new pair of shoes.  Samantha's blog and online store is called "Little goody 2 shoes", check it out!







I've gotten to know a lot of "starfish throwers" lately - and I'm deeply honored and thankful for the encouragement and inspiration I get from each of you ... Sarah, Jessica, Heidi, Erica, Susan, Kathy, Layla, Becky, Robyn and Samantha and each and every sponsor who is making a difference for ONE orphaned child.   I love making a difference alongside each of you!!


UPDATE:  As of Friday, Samantha has now sold over $640 in bottle-cap necklaces.  That's almost 36 pairs of shoes, for 36 very appreciative kids at Trees of Glory care-point in Ethiopia!!

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