Thursday, August 11, 2011

Castor Kids For a Cause

A few weeks ago, I received something in the mail from the Gospel for Asia organization asking for money to provide wells in India.  I was moved as I read about the plight of people who don't even have clean water to bathe in or drink.  It was not that this was new news to me.  In fact, we are fortunate to be are friends with an amazing couple (the Chees) who are doing well and filter work in Cambodia with Samaritan's Purse.  Another friend, Russ, used to do the same work in an African country.  But, as I sat there with my three children, eating to their full at lunch and planning to take a cool dip in the lake, the weight of this situation struck me more deeply.  The contrast to our lives was so great.

I shared the story with my children, reading excerpts from the letter.  We talked about how hard that must life is so different for so many around the world.  We talked about how good we have it here in North America and, more specifically, within our own home.  I shared with them how we are some of the richest people in the whole world; a fact that seems shocking in light of where we are on the local "income scale" (i.e., we are certainly not "rich" locally).  I also shared with them how, even in the state and town that we live in, there are people who have very little and may struggle to make ends meet. 

This was not the first time that we have discussed the inequitable distribution of life's goods and riches.  I have been known to remind my children who claim, "I'm starving!", about what starvation really looks like by showing them pictures or videos of people who are truly starving.  It was not that long ago when my kids were complaining about not having enough toys or things to do when I showed them video of children rummaging through garbage heaps to find something to keep or sell.  Even driving through poorer areas of Minneapolis or the subburbs has sparked conversation about economic differences.  Yet, most, if not all, of these discussions also touch on the similarities between us all and the basic needs and rights we all have.  And, almost all of these discussions lead to the question, "how should we respond?"

It is remarkable that even young children know that there is something wrong with people living a world away in utter poverty.   They understand that it is not right that there are homeless people and children without families within a short drive of our sheltered life. A 5 year old knows that it is horribly sad for someone to go to bed having only eatten one meal during the day.  A 9 year old understands, at some level, the problems that might come from having no clean water.  A 12 year old realizes that we have significant benefits simply because of where we were born and where we live.  Bono stated it well when he sings, "where we live should not decide whether we live or whether we die."  And yet, that is the realitiy for many, isn't it?

As we talked about the lack of fresh water in India, babies without families, and families without food, we again came to the question, "how should we respond?"  Over and over in God's Word it says we are to take care of widows, orphans, and strangers.  As Jesus followers, we have a responsibility to help those in need and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  With that in mind, the kids and I brainstormed some ideas that might help us love our neighbors as ourselves and deal with some of the needs of the world.  It was fun to watch and listen as this discussion took place.

A few days later, with nothing else pressing in the schedule, my three kids and I hatched one of our plans.  We began to bake.  Each child took responsibility for one recipe while I took on a fourth and oversaw all operations.

Don't worry, she washed her hands after loving on her doggy!

 A few hours later, when the baking was complete and cookies were cooled, I assembled plates of approximately10 - 12 goodies.  In addition, Zac helped me type out a note of explaination to hand out with our cookies.

Castor Kids for a Cause!
Finding creative ways to raise money for The Love of Christ Ministries (TLC), an orphanage in South Africa. 
TLC believes that every child has the right to a loving and responsible family.  Since April 1993, they have helped over 600 babies who have been abandoned or orphaned.  Find out more about TLC on their website:
Thanks for helping us make a difference!

With a cooler loaded up with 11 plates of cookes, the kids, Smudge, and I headed out to ask neighbors if they would like to help support our effort to raise some money for a South African orphanage near and dear to our hearts.  Zac and I decided rather than "pricing" the cookie plates, we would sell them by donation.  I honestly did not know how much one might possibly want to spend on these small plates of cookies.  I anticipated that we might raise $30 - $40 during this first venture and would combine it with something else in a month or so.  I admit, part way through the mess of baking I wondered whether I should have just sent that amount of money myself, rather than buying and donating ingredients and making a mess of the kitchen.  But, I knew that this project was about more than just sending money to Afica.  It was also about helping to mold my kids' hearts to view the world more and more with Jesus vision and to consider the needs of others as more significant than their own "comfort".

An hour and a half or so after leaving the house, my kids and I returned home, having sold 10 plates of cookies. All but one of the neighbors that we went to eagerly bought a plate of cookies from the kids.  At one home, two preteen children ran to their rooms to find money to buy their own plates and contribute willingly to the cause.  Each Castor child played a role in the sales.  Zac usually "pitched" the cause, while Elly handed out the cookies, and Ben kept the dog in control or pulled the cooler along.  We were pleasantly surprised and so encouraged by the generosity of neighbors.  In the end, the kids raised $110 for their cause.  The kids, especially Zac who knows the value of a dollar more than the other two, were thoroughly pleased.  Zac commented that we have some really great neighbors.  I agree whole heartedly!
Within an hour of being home, I forwarded the money via PayPal, to TLC with a note to Thea.  The next day, the kids got an e-mail and a lovely e-card from Thea.  Thea wrote that TLC would use the money to buy warm pajamas for the toddlers.  It is now winter and, due to some circumstances, they did not have proper heat.  I was thrilled to see that the kids (with a little help from Mom) were able to meet a real need in an amazing home meeting the needs of kids every single day.  It wasn't much in terms of the overall need, but it was something.  And, perhaps, more importantly, the children were integral in the planning and carry through of this project to serve.
My hope is that the kids, Ken, and I can do more of this together in the months and years to come.  Not necessarily baking, but doing something fun and creative with an intent to serve.  I hope even more so that my children will develop a heart for serving others in our own community and around the world...even serving one another along the way!  The world is smaller than we realize, especially when we expand our hearts and open our hands to reach around it.


  1. What a great idea!

    Have you read K.P. Yohannan's Revolution In World Missions? It's an awesome book!

  2. Haven't read it yet, but do have it. Should read it, I guess! :)

  3. Hey Kathy - You and your kids are awesome. I sure miss seeing your smiling faces around here! Keep up the good work and know that you are loved and missed.

  4. Thanks, Shauna! Your words are encouraging. I miss you too and think you should plan a road trip. Have I mentioned that to you before? If not, I am now. ;)


Share your thoughts, feelings, or your own related experiences. I love that! And, as always, thanks for stopping by!