Tag Archives: shirt drop

Memories That Last A Lifetime

20 Jan

The holidays are over, friends and family from miles away have all returned home, and we have a little time to rest. What better time, then, to reflect on all the things that make those people as special as they are to us? This season was among the most meaningful for us at Be a Number. After all the holiday parties, after the friends and the family were gone, and even before they arrived, we had a chance to share the joy of the Season of Giving with children in downtown Detroit, Michigan.

On December 24, 2010, we handed out 100 shirts to children at I Am My Brother’s Keeper Ministries, a ministry that had just suffered the sudden death of its leader, Pastor Henry Convington. His inspirational story is beautifully depicted in the book Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom, and it is a story which absolutely inspired us to visit the ministry. This year, we learned the true meaning of the holiday season: to love, to give, and to cherish.

We saw the love the Pastor Covington had for those who only passed through the ministry, and also for more permanent members. We saw the love he had for the building itself, which has suffered many expensive damages over the years. Most of all, however, we saw the love he had for the children in the area. He set up family nights for children and their families to play games, enjoy a meal, and congregate. He made many sacrifices to help them, and took many under his wing.

We gave one hundred children a Be A Number t-shirt through the organization, but more importantly, we gave them our constant support and our hope for them to succeed in whatever vocation or goals they set for themselves. We gave them a few words that they can carry with them through good times and bad: keep working, never give up, and dreams really can (and do!) come true.

Finally, we learned to cherish. While each child we have seen over the course of the shirt drops has left an impression on us, with this particular one, we saw what it is like for us to make an impression on the children. We conducted the shirt drop within about two weeks of spending the night there, but only some of us were able to return. The kids, without missing a beat, immediately asked where the others were. Without hesitation, we called Matt, and put the kids on the phone with him so they could hear his voice and tell them what they had been up to since they saw him.

The smiles on their faces were some of the biggest we’ve seen. This was proof for them that we cherish the memories we have of them and we will always care for them. Matt instantly recognized their names and asked enthusiastic questions and was excited to hear from them. Just this simple phone call gave them the sound knowledge that they would never be forgotten. Not only do we cherish and truly care about the kids, they can cherish the message we shared because they had real, powerful proof that we would always remember them.

Below is the video of the shirt drop, we know you’ll enjoy watching it :)

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Kids Helping Kids

29 Sep

Recently, we added a new line of shirts to Be A Number: youth sizes. Not only have we gotten many requests for children’s sizes, but it incorporates a whole new aspect of our mission. Now, not only are we as adults helping children around the world to feel a special connection to someone they have never met, but we are allowing kids to help their peers feel that connection.

We all remember a time in our childhood when we realized something wasn’t quite fair about the world. Whether it was being denied dessert for not finishing our vegetables at dinnertime, or that time when the oldest sibling was allowed to stay up late while we went to bed, we’ve all be there. Other times, we realized not only were our personal worlds unfair, but that some kids had it much worse than we did.

Kids are among the most passionate of people on this earth, and they have the energy and drive that adults comment on every day. “I wish I had that kind of energy” is a common statement at parks, beaches, or even living rooms. So why not let them help us? While they are so full of enthusiasm, they easily set their minds to a task and complete it, often surpassing our expectations of the result. They become excited to know that they have helped others, and revel in their own personal satisfaction at knowing they have made an impact on the world, however small it may seem to us.

For the children who have emptied their small piggy banks and donated all $8 in coins they have to the Red Cross, we have great respect. Others set up lemonade stands and give their rolls of quarters in profits to the Humane Society. Each year, elementary schools around the country band together to help families that may not enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner without a little extra help.

It is only natural, then, that we give kids in our communities an opportunity to help other kids. To us, children’s sizes are not just a response to customer demand, but they are a way to recognize the kids who help other kids, and their parents who have instilled in them such compassion.

If you haven’t yet,  check out this video of the first Be A Number video. You can see a child helping another to put on his new shirt!

Nature’s Humility

28 Jul

Beautiful skies were just a small part of Mananagua's charm

The cruel irony of life often strikes when we least expect it. Mother Nature seems to have no regard for our plans, and whether we like it or not rain will come as quickly as sunshine and storms as easily as clear skies. Unpredictable in her beauty as equally as her wrath, Mother Nature will be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of time.

While in the Dominican Republic, sun was abundant and provided a brilliant contrast to rusted corrugated tin  roofs and dusty streets around the Mananagua area, which was the location of our biggest shirt drop yet. An artist’s dream, the scenery was beautiful in its own right, and the smiles of children and adults alike added a shining light to the sun’s rays that only pure happiness can.

After passing out 400 shirts to children in the Dominican, our team returned home tired after a long day of connecting flights, but forever changed. The families that welcomed them into their homes to learn about life in the Dominican demonstrated patience on all levels as Kevin and others did their best to use enough broken Spanish to speak with them. Incomparable friendships and bonds were formed among the people of Mananagua and our team, who helped construct homes and pass out Be A Number shirts to the children.

Kevin's mom pauses for a picture with an adorable little boy

It’s hard to describe, then, the sinking feeling that comes with hearing news that within days of our departure from the Dominican, flooding claimed its power over the town. While those we met were unharmed as far as we could tell, homes were flooded, thousands were evacuated, and water swelled waist-high. Particularly heartbreaking was watching video and images with children in Be A Number shirts in the background.  Though the experience in the Dominican had been such a positive one and our team returned with more confidence in our cause, nature was a step behind us with a reminder that we can never take things for granted and can never stop working for a better world.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to all our friends in the Dominican, as well as those we don’t know, who are working to keep their families safe and healthy, all the while finding shelter and putting their lives back together. We will do our best to update all of you on their progress as new information becomes available, but take a moment to think of them each day, and consider reaching out to them in your own way.

Breaking Borders

9 Jul

Today is a big day for us here at Be A Numberour founder, his mom, and 400 shirts are headed to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic this morning. They’ll be working alongside members of Willow Creek church to build houses in the Santo Domingo area, and will be passing out shirts in their “down time.”

Kevin's mom is ready for the Dominican! Here she is on the plane just before take-off!

Our shirt drops began in March 2010, and since then, we have had the opportunity to hand-deliver shirts to elementary students in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, children disabled from Pallister-Killian Syndrome, and now we’re crossing international borders to help children in the Dominican.

It’s incredible what an idea in the middle of the night not quite a year ago has led to. The friendships forged and the connections made have been humbling to all of us, but nothing compares to the children we’re lucky enough to meet and spend time with. They have been a constant source of motivation, inspiration, and most importantly, dreams. They constantly show us what it truly means to dream. As they explore the world around them and encounter all new experiences each day, the children we work for have shared their ideas and goals with us, and we couldn’t be more proud of each of them.

So, as we wait anxiously for updates and photos from the Dominican, those of us back here in the States will be working hard to keep spreading the word about our worldwide (!!) movement to give children hope and help them keep dreaming while they teach us to do the same.

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