It’s a marketing campaign that is simple and understated and red. It’s not flashy, nor fancy, and not overtly “church”-y either. But I’m not referencing coffee cups. I’m not referencing boycotts or hashtags. I am referring to something that actually matters; something that will make a real difference in the lives of others.
I’m talking about: GIVE LOVE.
While some people are ranting and making noise about things that don’t really add up to a hill of (coffee) beans, there are other people just outside of Sacramento, California, spending this holiday season being generous and doing good. They are looking into their hearts and reaching into their pockets to make this Christmas season very special for an entire county of foster kids. What are they doing, you ask? They are choosing to GIVE LOVE.
The GIVE LOVE campaign got its humble start just last year in Yolo County (yes, folks, it’s really named “Yolo”) when a brand-new church saw a need in their community and met it. While serving as a chaplain with the Woodland Police Department, Matt Van Peursem, the lead pastor of Catalyst-Woodland, became aware of the considerable need for more resources for the county’s Child Protective Services. Nearly every single day, the county adds one new child to the foster care system in Yolo County. Unfortunately, there is generally a gap of approximately 48 hours from the time the child is in CPS care until he or she is placed in a more permanent home. During this time, the resources (think everything from comforts of home to basic hygiene needs) for the kids are incredibly limited. Enter generosity, kindness, thoughtfulness, and everything good in this world… in the form of Catalyst and people who genuinely wanted to make a difference.
The 2014 GIVE LOVE campaign resulted in 425 backpacks filled with overnight clothes and toiletries for all kids entering the foster care system. Bonus: stuffed animals were donated as well and were added to the bags given to the younger kids. Now if that doesn’t warm your heart more than a tall caramel macchiato, I don’t know what will!
Because last year’s generosity was so grand, and the Police Department still has backpacks awaiting their future owners, Catalyst decided to find a new way to GIVE LOVE this year. Last year, they met needs. This year, they decided to make wishes come true! With a little bit of help, the Church was able to get the Christmas Wish List of every single child in the foster care system. They intend to transform each and every wish into a wrapped present.
GIVE LOVE 2015 was launched just this past Sunday and will culminate on Catalyst’s one-year anniversary, December 6th. In the first hour, the good folks in Yolo County have already picked up 160 GIVE LOVE cards containing the Christmas Wish of a child currently in foster care. Most likely, more than 300 wishes will be turned into reality this Christmas season. These wishes range from grandiose requests for a new bike or a Nintendo DS, to the more unassuming, like a wish from a 17-year-old girl for a $20 gift card to simply get her hair cut. No matter if someone is granting the smallest of small wishes or making the unimaginable come true, one thing is certain: it matters. To quote Pastor Matt, “We do this because these kids end up in foster care as a result of devastating circumstances that communicate to these kids that nobody loves them, adults can’t be trusted, and promises are made to be broken. Everything we do in the GIVE LOVE campaign is to restore hope in those three things: Love, community and a bright future.”
The act of showing love and kindness, of finding generosity when it’s least expected, of being able to GIVE LOVE is the reason for the season.
It’s easy to get distracted by rants and other irrelevant noise streaming into your various social media feeds. I urge you to take time this holiday season to focus your eyes and heart on people who are doing things that really mean something. This is just one example of people doing good. No doubt, there are many more such examples; look for those examples; highlight them on your feeds. Find the good and GIVE LOVE.
For more information about the GIVE LOVE campaign, click here.