A friend of mine supports Smile Train. That’s an agency that goes into the most impoverished areas of the world and provides corrective surgery for children born with cleft palate or other disfiguring facial disorders. Over a million children on the planet have unrepaired cleft impairment.
As they grow, often they cannot speak or eat properly. In some of the poorest places, they are often denied the privilege of attending school (because the schools are not equipped to deal with their special needs) So, those children are doomed to poor communication skills, stunted growth because of inadequate nutrition, illiteracy, little or no job opportunities, and sometimes even the emotional pain of being socially ostracized. Smile Train sends surgeons into those areas to perform operations that give those children infinitely brighter, healthier futures than that which I just described.
My friend has never been to any of the countries Smile Train supports. She has never met a single child who had corrective surgery. And yet, she will frequently say to me: “Today I gave a kid their smile back!” She makes donations that keep that marvelous ministry alive and vital. And so, though the recipients of the work are on the other side of the world, she can rightfully say: “Today I gave a kid their smile back!”
Obviously there are hundreds of causes and agencies that cry out for attention and support. Some have to do with children, some with older adults. Some deal with assisting the victims of poverty while some deal with addressing the causes of poverty. Some build homes, others support shelters. Some protect the abused, others counsel the depressed. Our own church supports over thirty such agencies, and that just represents the tip of the iceberg here in NYC, let alone across the nation or around the world. Sometimes people say to me: “The needs are so vast and overwhelming. What can I do?” I always answer: “Pick one.” That’s it, just choose one issue and throw your energy into it. None of us can address all the plights of all the suffering people around the world. But, all of us can make life better for a few. In fact, I think by narrowing our focus we deepen our impact. I could give five dollars to twenty organizations, but it may heal more human hurt to give one hundred dollars to a single organization. What is close to your heart? What issue moves you emotionally? What causes you to lie awake a little longer at night? About what do you often say, “Someone really should do something”? If you can identify that special cause, then you be the someone who does something. Volunteer time. Donate money. Raise public awareness. Offer prayers. You hear me say it so often, but it still bears repeating: “None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something!” Find you special something, and do that.
To make an effort to help others, whatever their needs may be, is to reveal the beauty of your Faith. That’s what Jesus said. “In as much as you have offered kindness unto the least of these, you have done so likewise unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40)