Friday, September 4, 2015

Donate Your Blanket

It has been a long quiet spell here on the blog, maybe because life outside the blog has been busy. Ideas for blog posts (like our Breda city trip and Pippin's birthday party) have been floating around in my head but never actually made it into posts.

What's nudging me back onto the blog today though is the refugee crisis in Europe.

It's referenced on the radio and in the news; Facebook has been flooded with photos and stories. Friends from church have raised money and flown to Greece to work first-hand with the refugees there. As a 'Feeler' on the Meyers Briggs personality scale, blessed with several 'Thinker's in my immediate family, I have a hard time knowing how to react to such a huge issue. My emotions want me to book a flight, send hundreds of euros, call for people around the world to drop materialism and literally save lives.

Then again, I know that it's important to not get carried away but to make wise choices. There are always crises, always war and starvation and death. Faramir and I already spend part of our monthly budget donating to Mercy Ships and International Justice Mission. These organizations don't just throw money and manpower at a problem; they cooperate with the local authorities, hospitals, etc. to change the situation and set a precedent for how it can be done. Faramir and I are hands-on people, so I like that the photos and stories that come from these organizations are about dealing with practical needs.

I haven't found a similar organization for refugee work yet that I'm comfortable with supporting long-term, but there are a few short-term efforts that are encouraging. One that popped up yesterday on my Facebook news feed is by a group called Doneer Je Deken (Donate Your Blanket). They are collecting packets for a refugee camp in Calais, with donation points across Holland. Right in the middle of my wondering how to help in the crisis (besides support those flying to Greece), I find out that there's one donation point in south Rotterdam, open on Wednesday (which I missed) and one on Friday. So I've been excitedly hunting through my house for items on the collection list, and we'll take what we have and can carry.

Many of the items on the list are what I'd expect to see on a camping or survival list. Matches. Tinned foods. Blankets. Toiletries. Tents. Pots and pans. Tarps. Clothes, but no high heels or suits. Rope. Tools.

It reminds me just how much the refugees have lost. Maybe, when living in their old homes, they could easily run to the corner store for shampoo. Maybe, like me, they had clothes in storage in the basement and too many dishes in their kitchen. A tent that they hadn't used in years but were keeping because 'it might come in handy some day'. And now they're living in a refugee camp with only what they brought in backpack, maybe not even that.

I told Faramir last night what I was hoping to do, and he (not surprisingly) wanted to know more details. Which meant I needed to present it logically and yet also say how much I want to make our own donation packages. I know it's a small thing, compared to what others are doing. We're not driving donation trucks to Calais, or putting life on hold to go volunteer for a week or a month.

But I can gather up towels and blankets, and be grateful that we have so much that we can share with others. I can bag up some groceries and pray for the refugees who don't know when they - and their families - will find their next meal. I can collect tiny bottles for shampoo and soap, and hope whoever gets them will know that they are not forgotten. And maybe they can face tomorrow with a tiny bit more hope than they had the night before.

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