On March 11, 2011, I woke up to images of a catastrophic earthquake in Japan. Picture after picture broke my mama heart. Every face I saw could have been mine; every shattered home, every tattered child, every weeping face…but for the grace of God, that could be my own family. I knew I had to help. If that was me…if it ever is me, I want everyone on the planet to show up, big time. But I’d been reading recently about the percentage of charitable giving that actually gets to those who need it, and I felt like my tiny donation would never actually get to those mamas in Japan who needed my help. I wanted to make a difference, and I didn’t know how.
So I posed a question to Facebook (because, what other option did I have for legitimate research?), and a college roommate suggested a local Cincinnati charity: Matthew 25 Ministries. A quick Google search painted a picture of an organization that faithfully uses their resources in wise and creative ways. More than 99% of the monetary donations M25M receives go directly to the people who need them; the charity is ranked among the top four star charities on Charity Navigator and they are highly regarded in Cincinnati and beyond. In addition, they are masters of creatively using things other people discard to meet the needs of people around the world. I made my donation that day knowing that my gift was going to find its way to someone who desperately needed it.
Several years later, tornadoes hit Kentucky, and the director of my children’s daycare sustained significant damage to her home. There was an influx of support during the first few days following the storm, but then the attention – and the help – turned elsewhere. She told me later that only Matthew 25 Ministries took the time to meet with her husband, working with him to determine a list of his most pressing needs, and providing the resources to meet them. That is the kind of charity I want to support: the kind that digs in and provides help for the long haul.
Matthew 25 Ministries does so much more than reliably use your monetary donations. On a cold Wednesday night this past December, I wrangled my wiggly crew to a night of service at their Kenwood Road facility. M25M accepts products that businesses cannot use: samples, misprints, and lightly used items that would simply go to waste find their way to the warehouse where volunteers sort, evaluate, categorize, and prepare them for people in need. On the night we were there, my four and five year old sons sorted through gigantic bins of shoes, organizing them by size and width, and matching them together in pairs. We were part of a larger church group, with volunteers as young as four. This sort of work was perfect for my kids; they felt productive and valuable, they showed off their muscles carrying Rubbermaid containers from place to place, and they even got to climb in a shipping crate full of shoes. They left dirty, exhausted, and exhilarated…and begging to go back. One of the things I want to instill in my children from a young age is the importance of service, and sometimes it is hard to find ways for little ones to help.
Matthew 25 needs community help with a variety of projects, many suitable for children as young as four and for adults and children with special needs. They also have off-site projects that can be completed by corporations, scout groups, etc. In 2015, 58,000 volunteers donated 139,000 hours of their time to help people in need around the world; I’m so grateful that my family could be a part of that.
I want to help creating lasting change in our world, and I want to know that my time and money make a difference. I suspect that most of you feel the same way. I’ve included contact information, and volunteer hours below if you would like to be a part of the work they are doing. Saturday volunteer times are often booked well in advance, so I’d recommend calling ahead or scheduling an event; if you do, try to find a time when their Global Village experience is open; it is a valuable way to help your children understand life in a third-world country.
Monday – Thursday
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
4:30 PM – 7:30 PM
9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Saturday (pre-scheduled groups)
9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Saturday (individual walk-ins)
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM