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All Christmas season, we’ve been writing and demonstrating ways to “give hope.” And people like Chris Fritz, a father of three, have done an incredible job of showing just how to do that.
Inspired by Blood:Water Mission’s goal to provide fresh water to children in Africa, Chris, his wife Aimee, and their children opened a lemonade stand as a way to raise money for that cause. They were blown away by what happened next.
“So what are we going to choose for our ministry focus for 2013?” It was a seemingly innocent question asked by my then 8-year-old daughter during last year’s Christmas Eve dinner. In 2012 we’d decided to help expand the kids worldview by picking a global issue—researching, discussing and getting involved at some level as a family. That issue ended up being orphans. It was fabulously successful, but as you may imagine, it was also a rather intense topic to walk through with two 8 year olds and a 4 year old.
The kids did great. They loved learning about various groups working on behalf of orphans, earnestly joined the support teams for many families navigating the tangled world of global adoption, and fervently prayed for specific orphans and for an end to child abandonment in countries the world over.
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Aimee and I were on board to repeat the process in 2013, but after spending the year on such a significant topic, we were hoping to take a break and begin thinking about 2013 in January or maybe even February.
But that was not to be.
The kids loved the process and wanted to get started on the next year right away. The family brainstormed on topics, the clan voted, and all three kids picked “Clean Water.” Full disclosure: Neither Aimee nor I proposed the topic, voted for it, or even really understood what it meant. But that didn’t matter; children will lead them, so off we went into 2013 looking to learn about Clean Water and how a family of five in Chicago’s western suburbs could make a difference.
After a month of research, I got a call at work saying my family had fallen in love with Blood:Water Mission’s (B:WM) vision and videos and, in particular, with a very catchy song called “One Drop” by someone named Plumb. When I got home, the kids clustered around the computer and exhorted me to watch a series of three-minute videos, each focused on a specific need and response.
Later that night, Aimee and I took a longer look at B:WM and came away impressed with the clarity of their focus and the simplicity of their communication. Through these short videos as well as their written pieces, they were able to communicate who they were, what they did, and what we could do to help—not B:WM, but many people I would never likely meet.
This seemed like an easy one. The videos and materials would provide ongoing source material for education and we could host one of their Lemon:AID stands as a kind of mini-fundraiser.
So that’s what we did. The kids and I tore apart some old pallets and refashioned them into an old-timey stand and my wife and the kids created a bunch of soaps and signs to sell alongside the lemonade. We set what, to me, seemed like a preposterous goal of $500.
But something happened along the way.
Other families heard about what we were doing and started consuming the same materials we had. Suddenly it wasn’t just us making the signs. We had groups in the house painting and others bringing over materials.
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Then we had the stand. The yard was full of kids buying lemonade for $1—which seems like a lot for lemonade, but $1 provides one African with water for a full year. When a kid hears that that buying a silly glass of lemonade makes them a World Changer, they ask for two.
We raised $4,055. That was astounding, but not the amazing part. What was amazing were the countless moms who came up to my wife and thanked her for putting this together and giving their families a chance to be involved.
And someone from Starbucks showed up.
Starbucks and other businesses heard not just about the stand, but more importantly about B:WM and what a difference they are making in African lives. These businesses asked us to host stands in their stores, dealerships and craft fairs.
The community got involved. Dozens of families contributed supplies, crafts and foods; other businesses donated time, raffle prizes and services. The goal was adjusted often. Currently we are closing in on the preposterous sum of $20,000 raised to provide clean water to men and women in Africa. More importantly, my 9-year-old son will indignantly tell you how these new wells are letting African girls stay in school just like the boys.
The lesson for us has been that we only needed to get the ball rolling. Once you do that, amazing things can happen. Find an issue your family can learn about, find a quality organization to help guide you, and see what it does to your family.
Learn how you can help Blood:Water Mission build a medical clinic in Isiolo, Kenya!
Blood:Water Mission is a non-profit organization based in Nashville, Tennessee, established to equip African grassroots organizations to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises. Through technical, financial and organizational support, Blood:Water partners with more than 1,400 African communities and provides life-saving water for over 800,000 people in 11 different countries and access to HIV/AIDS education, treatment and support for over 40,000 people. Visit www.bloodwatermission.com or follow on Twitter @bloodwater for more information on how you can get involved.