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reaching out

by Shawni

I’ve had a lot of thoughts about service lately that I’m writing up for a blog post next week. But for now, let’s go back to this last summer for a minute.

When we got back home to the heat of the desert we were able to be involved with an event to reach out to new refugees who have come from war-torn, troubled areas and help them get on their feet as they work to make new homes here in the desert.

This is something our stake (group of church congregations) does every summer in conjunction with Catholic Charities and an organization called The Welcome to America Project, and there is something I love about that: different organizations working together for a common good.

We welcomed each family as they came in and got to hear their stories as we took them around to different stations to gather piles upon piles of donated things including laundry soap, backpacks, toiletries, diapers, etc.

As the parents gathered the youth kept busy with games:

Face painting:

Oh and stuffed animals too 😉

I was asked to take pictures. Everyone signed photo release forms, so I share these pictures with permission, but I am trying to be somewhat discreet in what I share because I want to.

But there are a few I want to share because look at Dave’s aunt:

Who wouldn’t feel “welcomed to America” with that woman?

There were rooms filled with clothes:

And of course, these helpers too:

I love missionaries!

Service can be tricky sometimes, but I loved that this day seemed to embody all the goodness of reaching out and was such a good way to connect and welcome those who are coming from such tragic circumstances to a new life and a new beginning.

I do want to share this particular photo since the women were so willing to have it taken and I love that picture on the wall behind them.

Because isn’t that what it’s all about? I do believe there is a God in Heaven who wants us to connect and “mourn with those who mourn,” and “strengthen the feeble knees,” and that Christ provided the ultimate example of that.

I felt so inspired by these people from the Catholic Charities team:

And these ones from The Welcome to America Project (they do some pretty amazing things if you check out their website!):

Here’s the people heading up this whole thing all together:

I LOVED getting to know them all and hearing their stories.

And of course, have to include a little family picture.

Sure love my people up there.

As long as we’re on the top of “reaching out,” a few months ago we received pictures from Yapay, the organization in Bolivia raised money for in our Children for Children concert last year (more info.on that back HERE).

The money we raised went toward school bags filled with books for all these kids:

They look pretty exited about those puppies, don’t you think?

So grateful for all the kids who performed in the concert, and the parents who generously donated to hear those kids perform, raising enough money to help those kids with something that hopefully will make a difference for them.

Our kids are meeting up with our neighbors on Sunday to gear up for our fifth annual Children for Children Concert. They will be deciding which charity they want to raise money for (they have a few good choices to pick from) but if anyone has tips or ideas to send their way, by all means, they’d love to have them! And if anyone wants to do a Children for Children project in their own neighborhoods, let me know and I think my niece wrote up a pretty great list of instructions to get that ball rolling and we can send it your way!


Lindsay Burt October 24, 2019 - 2:40 am

I would love to have a list of instructions on how to make this happen! It has pulled at my heart strings for a couple years now but the thought of making it happen has overwhelmed me a bit. Any ideas your niece has would be so appreciated! Thank you!

PS October 24, 2019 - 4:32 am

I’ve always been impressed with the Catholic Charities. They really *walk the walk* when it comes to following Jesus.

Rachel October 24, 2019 - 9:01 am

I would love to get instructions for putting on a Children for Children concert. Thanks for being willing to share!

Jessica Deceuster October 24, 2019 - 9:08 am

I would love information! After hearing President Nelson speak in conference about all the service that has been done I’ve been looking for some new ideas. This is perfect!


Kamae October 24, 2019 - 10:32 am

Oh, these pictures make me tear up! I served my mission in Bolivia and these faces just make me miss it so much. What a wonderful thing to be a part of!

Monica Geary October 24, 2019 - 11:27 am

I would love a list for the children to children concert!
Thanks for all the good you do!!

Jessica October 24, 2019 - 11:49 am

I would love the list for the children to children concert, thanks so much for sharing

S November 1, 2019 - 2:23 pm

I would love the instructions. Thanks!!

Nicole Taylor October 24, 2019 - 12:43 pm

I love this! Refugees pull at my heart strings. They have the most poignant stories and we can learn so much from them.
There’s two other organizations I want to recommend besides the ones you mentioned.

Gathering Humanity is based in Phoenix and does such amazing work. They set up apartments for new refugees and asylum seekers and are always looking for more supplies and volunteers.

Their Story is Our Story is an organization that interviews refugees and posts their stories on a blog/social media/and have also published a book. Think Humans of New York specifically with refugees. An individual story often has so much power. Their instagram is @tsosrefugees

Thanks for the light you always bring to my day.

Shawni November 4, 2019 - 9:43 am

Love these suggestions! We are hoping to get paired up with a refugee family through Gathering Humanity, and I love the @tsosrefugee instagram account! Thank you for sharing!

Holly October 24, 2019 - 1:22 pm

I read your post and then hopped on Facebook and boom, first thing I see is a fundraiser that a friend shared about to help with the drought in Zambia. https://www.facebook.com/donate/767009503740461/?fundraiser_source=external_url

Misha October 24, 2019 - 1:48 pm

I would love your list of instructions on how to get started with a Children for Children concert! Thank you!

Dane Murphy October 24, 2019 - 4:44 pm

Amazing. Thanks for Sharing this site!

Jennifer October 24, 2019 - 5:36 pm

I would also love the info on starting our own children for children! Your stories are so inspiring:)

Aubrey Stock October 24, 2019 - 5:55 pm

I would love information about the concert as well. Thanks!

Chaun October 24, 2019 - 7:40 pm

Absolutely beautiful. I know Heavenly Father loves when his children team up with each other, regardless of religious beliefs, or what have you 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
And I would LOVE instructions! How can I get info to you?

Cheryl October 25, 2019 - 5:01 am

I was just thinking about how I could organize my kids into a fundraiser for a charity when you wrote about the instructions! Thank you for being willing to share. Yes, I would love the instructions. Thanks, Shawni. My family loves working with Gathering Humanity that helps refugees here in Phoenix, but this would be another way to get us working together to serve.

Svetlana October 25, 2019 - 6:52 am

Why is Lucy all of a sudden very tan? All of the photos of her as of late have her as being very dark tan.

Shawni October 25, 2019 - 7:37 am

It’s part of the drug side-effects from the clinical trial she is participating in. I talked about it over here: https://71toes.com/2019/09/some-heroes-a-clinical-trial-and-a-suntan/

Kayli October 25, 2019 - 1:23 pm

Put me in the list for your concert instructions, please!

Irene October 25, 2019 - 7:05 am

Last year I had the chance of being a summer camp counsellor for an organization in Cambodia. It’s a French NGO started over 20 years ago by a married couple and today they help thousands of children mostly in Pnom Penh. Their name is For a Child’s Smile.
This is their website in English https://www.pse.ngo/pse-child-smile-uk
And there’s a movie about them that I highly recommend (get tissues!) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5774604/
You can participate and donate to help fund the schooling of poor children (their biggest program) or for the summer camp program. They try to put kids in school (instead of going to work in dumpsters or constructions sites) and in exchange for the salary the family won’t get, they give them rice. Even for the summer camp, because during school holidays those children are more vulnerable and usually forced to work all day long.
They started with a small hut and today they offer education from Kindergarten to secondary school and professional training. They accept donations and for summer they accept applications of foreign monitors/counsellors for a month (half the teams are Cambodians during summer). I was there last year and it really changed my life!

Shawni November 4, 2019 - 10:00 am

Love this Irene, thank you for the info. and movie recommendation, I want to watch it with my girls! I love that there are things like that to help make us more aware of what’s going on in the world!

kirsten October 25, 2019 - 7:25 am

wow. everyone should be welcomed here like this!

Shawni October 25, 2019 - 7:36 am

I love all the requests for instructions on how to hold your own “Children for Children” concert. I’m figuring out the best way to send that and I’ll send ASAP! It’s such a great way for kids to be involved in reaching out. Letting them pick the charity that speaks to them the most, organizing it all, etc. I love this tradition so much! More info. on that soon!

Sarah October 25, 2019 - 8:03 am

Shawni, I would love the instructions as well! I have been thinking of a way to do this as well with my own children and boom you are an answer to prayer this morning. Thank you!

Albina Powers October 26, 2019 - 6:58 am

I’m sorry for the delay, but if not too late, I would be grateful for the instructions as well. Many thanks!

Lori Conran October 27, 2019 - 6:33 pm

Can you send me the instructions too? Thanks!

Kelli October 29, 2019 - 5:51 pm

I would love the instructions for the concert as well. Thank you!

Marie October 30, 2019 - 1:05 pm


Shawni November 4, 2019 - 10:12 am

Ok, I think I have emailed everyone the instructions who requested them. If you are just coming here and would like the tool kit, click on this new blog post here that has links to all the instructions: https://71toes.com/2019/11/children-for-children-concerts-and-how-to-help-your-kids-put-on-their-own/

Please keep in touch if you do your own Children for Children Concert, Hazel and I would love to hear all about it!

Love, Shawni


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