Recently, I took up peddling Krispy Kreme donuts for a fundraiser. I felt a little awkward, maybe juvenile. But this fundraiser was different from my elementary school days. Yes, most of my advertising was on Facebook. But even so, instead of trying to win a list of prizes from a fundraiser catalogue or help my school purchase new playground equipment, I raised money to rehabilitate children rescued from sex trafficking.
My husband and I found a booth supporting an anti-sex-trafficking nonprofit, Operation Underground Railroad, at the Farmer’s Market last summer. When the CEO of the nonprofit spoke at the Rexburg Tabernacle in March, we were there.
Heat rose off the hundreds of people there and crowded us on the wooden balcony benches. “How can I help?” people asked him. “I don’t know what you can do, exactly,” he said. “But God knows what you can do, and you’ve got to consult him, and you’ll figure it out.”
I learned that 2 million children worldwide are being sold for sex. More people are enslaved now than during the Transatlantic slave trade. I learned about Prosperity Project, which works with the orphanages that house the children O.U.R. rescues. I was optimistic when I took the last fundraiser order form from Matt, Prosperity Project’s founder. Social media let me get the word out. Krispy Kreme was a product to tempt. I had no solid plans for going on a humanitarian mission to build chicken coops and water filtration systems for the orphanages in Haiti that Prosperity Project worked with. But I did want to help.
Children go without shoes throughout the world while my closet shelters a bin of them I hardly wear. Each day, I glance at shelves in my living room that bend under the weight of books, but I live in a world where hundreds of millions of adults can’t read. Our apartment has running water and an air conditioner. I live in a safe neighborhood. When the fridge looks empty, a trip to the grocery store isn’t far away.
The tagline on Prosperity Project’s website is “Join the Movement. Stop the Pain.” They are referring to the children’s pain. But having strangers knock on the door of my little apartment, money in hand to pay for their glazed donuts, will not just put new bedding in Haitian orphanages and clean water in their cups. Each dollar that passes through my hands could mean a chance to forget my own pain as well: the pain that comes from inaction or from seeing my privileges while recognizing how unfair life is to others. But then, a feeling of helplessness can arise at the size of the problem each fundraiser fights.
I sold 15 dozen donuts in five days. Some went to women wanting to support the cause. Two went to my mother, who wanted them split up among her college-aged kids.
One man asked me to keep the change from an order and give it to Prosperity Project.
There was something beautiful in selling those 180 donuts, even if the money I raised is nowhere near as much as is needed. But I got to see goodness and generosity in the people around me, and we each got the chance to act.
And maybe, when those kids get their new shoes or see chickens peck the dirt on the ground at their orphanage, they will feel some hope that more help is on the way.