Perhaps my favourite Christmas gift this year was from my daughter to Miss Goose and I together. When we first opened it, we were a bit puzzled, for there was a white t-shirt with the words “Choose Love” on it in black lettering, and a piece of paper that appeared to be an invoice for:
My first reaction was, “You bought us a tent? You want us to move out?” But as she explained, as I understood what my wonderful daughter had done, tears came. She donated this money in mine and Natasha’s names, to be spent on the above items for a refugee in need. My daughter has a heart of pure gold.
So this evening, as I pondered my ‘good people’ post, I thought to do a bit of research into ‘Choose Love’. From their website …
Choose Love. It’s a simple, but powerful message.
At a time when the world faces many challenges; when rhetoric of hate and division has found itself centre stage; we believe sharing this simple message has never been more vital.
We all have a choice. To be motivated by fear and animosity, to build walls and turn our backs on the world. Or to nurture the hopeful; to recognise our common future. To chooselove. The world can feel broken, but everywhere these cracks are letting in light.
We’re under no illusions. We know we face some huge challenges. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned as charity, and as a community, it’s that we can all play a part in creating the world we want to see. And choosing love seems like a pretty good place to start.
Choose Love, the world’s first store where you can buy real gifts for refugees, contains practical items like tents, nappies and sleeping bags. But instead of taking them home, each purchase buys a similar item for someone who truly needs it.
In 2017, this new model of charitable giving raised nearly £1 million, it got the message out to over 200 million people, and it engaged celebrities, influencers and the public with a really positive message.
We believe funds should go straight to where they are needed most. So we make sure 100% of donations from the store go straight to supporting front line services.
Last year, the sale of life jackets from the Choose Love store raised £38,594, which enabled Refugee Rescue to assist 1,399 people braving the treacherous sea crossing from Turkey.
But Choose Love is only one part of the picture, for they are in partnership with another organization, Help Refugees, that goes even further. Help Refugees is ranked one of the most efficient charities helping refugees with a myriad of things. A bit about them …
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things
Help Refugees started as nothing more than a hashtag in August 2015. A group of friends wanted to raise $1,500 and fill a van full of donations to take down to Calais. Within a week, we had raised $86,000. We were soon receiving 7,000 items every day.
Fast forward three years, and we have helped over 722,500 people, managed over 25,000 volunteers, and we support more 80 projects across Europe and the Middle East. We have established a fieldwork first, networked approach to giving aid, establishing local networks and working with local partners to deliver projects.
Boosted by the support of high-profile musicians, filmmakers and actors who joined our ‘Choose Love’ campaign, we believe that together with our partners, volunteers, fundraisers, and supporters we have pioneered a new movement in humanitarian response – ordinary people to help other ordinary people in need in the most direct of ways.
We help where the need is greatest. Flexible and fast in our response to the genuine needs of refugees, we fill gaps and act where big NGOs and governments don’t.
94% of your donations go directly towards supporting refugees across Europe and the Middle East.
– We are among the most efficient refugee charities in Europe
– We’ve had thousands of volunteers
– We’re funded by people like you
– We don’t have any highly paid executives
– We provide vital aid to people fleeing war, persecution and poverty
I checked out both Help Refugees and Choose Love, both are legitimate and rely almost exclusively on volunteers and donations. So today, I honour many good people whose names I do not know, but whose accomplishments deserve kudos. The 25,000+ volunteers, those who came up with the ideas for these two charities, and the thousands of people who have helped, either by giving donations or buying items for refugees. And one more good person I would like to honour today … daughter Chris for having such a wonderful heart and for caring about people.