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Lessons for Youth in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey

One of the things we strive for at Mo’ Motion is to help youth build a sense of responsibility towards community. We want to have an impact by teaching our kids to give back, to support others, and to think beyond their own needs. This can be a scary time for kids – they are seeing a lot of frightening images of destruction and loss – and more is in the forecast.  We can help them through these times and give them some opportunities to learn lessons about community involvement at the same time.  Action is empowering.

When we see the heartache and need arise from tragedies like Hurricane Harvey, and we know that some of our own extended Mo’ Motion family have been directly impacted by the tragedy, our instinct might be to jump in with both feet and teach our kids to give, give, give.  But we also need to take this opportunity to teach our youth two very important lessons about

  1. Giving for others and not for ourselves, and
  2. Understanding short and long-term needs.

Giving for Others

It is a wonderful human characteristic to be giving. We see people suffering and losing everything and we want to help. (Read Mo’s story on our Sneaker Donation last year to Haitian refugees and her support of Robinson, who graduated from college.)  We dive into our own homes and see what we can share. Wonderful, right? In actuality, this is not always what our communities need. Sending “stuff” is not always the best option.

As one volunteer from Texas wrote:

Some of the items you are sending are the wrong donations. I know your hearts are in the right place and you are rightfully imagining that we have lost everything because many have, but frankly these things do not help us in our current situation. In fact, they hinder our efforts more than a little bit.


She is speaking of the mountains of clothing – everything from used underwear to winter wear more suitable for a Minnesota winter than a Texas fall – that are growing in resource centers because people want to give. But all of the time it takes to sort these really unneeded items is time that could be better spent by volunteers, and the mountains are taking up valuable space as well.
So if you feel inclined to help, please consider these author’s pleas.

Please, please continue to love us.

There are no words to express how much your encouragement means to us. But please, please think before donating. If you come for rescue operations or donation drops, don’t just show up and wander aimlessly looking for something to do. Connect with FEMA and other local aid groups for instructions ahead of time. 

Don’t empty your drawers and bureaus randomly into a bag. Go to sites like Aviators Helping South Texas or FEMA or Will Metcalf’s page and peruse the lists and find out what we really need.

Donate financially to local nonprofits so they can buy what they actually need for recovery. Look, even if it’s $2 it adds up. That gift is just as precious and needed as someone else’s $100. It’s about heart not amount.

Supply gift cards to evacuees or those distributing to evacuees so they can buy what they really need. 

When purchasing gift cards, make sure they are VISAS or are to places we actually have down here in our areas. 

It is great if you can donate financially to a cause you support. However, sending our own money is one of those intangibles for kids.

If you have kids who want to get involved, help them find ways to actively serve – anything from the traditional lemonade stand or serving in a local soup kitchen.

Understanding Long-term Need

Whether we are talking about Texas in the wake of Hurrican Harvey, the West after the ravages of wildfire, or in anticipation of the destruction of Irma, let’s consider the long-term impacts. Local businesses are suffering and will likely take time to recover. People will not have discretionary income – they will be waiting on FEMA and insurance checks, and will be unable to spend money they don’t have. The local economy needs individuals to purchase goods from them directly.

This is a key part to helping rebuild the communities, to supporting the economy and the people for long-term recovery.

  • Buying supplies from local communities and providing funds or gift cards to be spent locally not only helps families get supplies they need, but supports the businesses that are at the heart of the economies.
  • This does not mean that there is no need for “stuff”, especially in this critical window of immediate recovery. We just need to be conscious of what we send, how many hands it has to pass through to get where it needs to be, and if there is a better or more effective way of giving. We are sending some of our new Mo’ Motion gear to the Texas area via the efforts of Coach Kelvin Sampson, where they will then be distributed as needed.
  • Support the local economy of the impacted area. Don’t cross the area off your list of vacation stops for next spring. While there is still rebuilding and recovery to do, many areas need you to keep your plans, your travels, and your interests in their communities.

Above all, the long-term need we all have is to continue building strong communities, where we teach our youth the value of volunteering and serving. Not just in times of monumental devastation, but during our everyday, sometimes mundane lives. It is essential that we teach them how to serve in their own communities. 

Serving right now, where you are, is valuable.

Let us all work to teach the kids in our communities that giving is not just about a one-time event.

It is a lifestyle of action.



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