Hooray! You came to our Water Gala recently (thank you!!!) or learned about us, and now you love Let Them LOL! Maybe you’ve gotten excited about the potential for hope. Perhaps, like us, you felt a deep conviction that changing the story for clean water, education, and the cycle of poverty is worth your effort… but there’s a problem. You saw others contribute to the cause and started to feel inadequate about your time, talents, or treasures. Maybe you’re wondering where you fit in? Well, we’re excited to share that there’s no one right way to get involved. And we’re here to help.
Let Them LOL was started with the belief that everyone has something they can offer. So, whether or not you’re necessarily overflowing with material resources (but if you are, you are more than welcome here! Aaaand… we’ll accept all your personal finance tips in the comments below) what are some practical ways you can give?
Here are a range of suggestions just to get you started (but feel free to dream big from here)… and be encouraged: if any of these sound like a stretch to you, lean in! When we serve it’s always a good idea to get a little uncomfortable.
1. Share & engage with our social media posts
Believe it or not this is a major way to help out our cause and show your support by simply shifting your thumbs (yup). Across facebook and instagram (follow @letthemlol), we have little control over raising awareness without your help, but with your help there is far far more we can achieve. Did you know when you share a post it not only increases but actually multiplies our reach? This means there are hundreds more people who will instantly learn more about the potential to be involved in bringing hope while you chill in your pj’s (win, win)! When you respond with comments and give “reactions” (like love and haha vs just like) you actually help more people who already follow Let Them LOL to see our content. Also, if you have a unique story to share, or reflection to offer about how Let Them LOL is impacting you, we’d really love to hear from you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us. You have the unique power to spread the story and we need your help!
2. Sign up as a volunteer for unique needs & opportunities
We do our best to send out regular, engaging (and relevant) updates about the program here in Buffalo and in Sierra Leone, West Africa via email. When you sign up to be a volunteer, you not only get access to our volunteer email, you get the opportunity to share a little more about your personal interests/skills, and you may opt to be part of our facebook volunteer group where we share more immediate donation & volunteer needs. If you’d like to stay in the loop on yearly happenings, drop by for ongoing projects, shop for last-minute donations as you’re able, give from your spring cleaning stash here and there, or even grab a take-home project box now and then…this is ideal! (Hint: find our volunteer form anytime under Join>Volunteer. It is not a requirement in order to drop by and help out at our Volunteer Center, but we’d love for you to sign up!)
3. Host an event with your tribe
This is one of the ways you can get as creative as you’d like and we’ve seen so many incredible ideas – especially from some of our youngest volunteers. Lemonade stands, bake sales, movie nights, cookies-in-a-jar, dance-a-thons… you name it! It can be as simple or elaborate as you choose, suited to the taste of you and your people. Spend time making memories with people you love, share the story of Let Them LOL (you can check out our vimeo page for some wonderful videos like this one to help you out), and as an added bonus celebrate making an impact together by the end. Don’t forget to snap a few photos of the event and tag us. We love celebrating alongside you! Every little bit goes a long way. As the African proverb says: Many drops make a mighty ocean! (Hint: not sure how to best collect the donations? See number four below)
4. Start a creative fundraiser
Did you know you can set up a simple LTLOL fundraising page in support of clean water or children anytime you want? This means if you have a group excited to rally around the potential for changing the story (or you just don’t want to wait around for one of our annual events) you can get started today. These pages are customizable and sharable so you can let your imagination run wild and bring all your friends up to speed (even encourage some friendly competition) as you organize your very own personal multi-country simulcasted glow-in-the-dark marathon for clean water in Sierra Leone…hey, who knows?! We’ve seen some pretty cool stuff.
5. *New* Sponsor a staff member
If leaving the house/interacting with large groups is not really your thing, but being anonymous to all but one person halfway across the world is, we’ve got something cool for you! If you cut a daily large Tim’s coffee in half you can provide healthcare, nutrition, and exchange encouragement with Let Them LOL staff on the frontlines in Sierra Leone fighting to transform their community just as we are here. Your daily sacrifice may start to seem like hardly anything at all as you learn about this person living a world away who may have more in common with you than you think. And maybe, this kind of connection is just the thing us introverts need 😉 (…you extroverts should already be lining up at the door for this kind of thing). If you’re interested in learning more, stop by our Volunteer Center to learn about staff members, or (ahem, introverts) email email@example.com.
6. Wear our swag/share the story
No matter who you are, most likely you will have to leave the house sometime and our philosophy is you might as well look awesome – and secretly accomplish something – while doing it! Sporting LTLOL merch (or even just telling your friends about your passion for clean water and being part of making that change happen with us) not only supports our organization, it empowers you to become an advocate everywhere you go by literally walking around. As you wear the story (or use it to decorate your house), remember you get to represent who we are, and engage with the people around you in a positive way. We’re especially excited that someone might get curious and ask What’s the deal with that smiley face on your wristband? Or Where did you get those sweatpants? This is your golden opportunity to explain about a laugh on a ringtone which inspired a two communities to help bring clean water, education, healthcare, and more as we hope for a better future together! You are a huge part of the story. Most likely you got involved because someone told you – who knows who you’ll invite to be part of it next? (Hint: to check out the merch in person, stop by our physical store at the Volunteer Center!)
7. Come volunteer
If you’re local to the Buffalo area, we have a Volunteer Center at 5205 Harris Hill Rd. We’d love for you to drop in Thursdays from 9am-7pm and Saturdays 9am-1pm! What should you expect? Well, the unexpected! Get ready to get flexible as our Buffalo and Sierra Leone programs are always shifting throughout the year for upcoming events and fundraising initiatives and we’d love a helping hand. Your willing heart will be welcome as you assist with anything from upkeep, to administration, creative projects, to sponsorship, to meal packing, you never know what we’ll have in store! If you’re thinking of bringing in a group larger than 5, use this handy form so we can be best prepared to accommodate you. As our year comes to a close we know we’ll need a bunch of helping hands to get our year end mailing ready and out the door – will you be one of the incredible volunteers we can count on to make magic like this happen behind the scenes (not to mention, coffee’s always on us)?
8. Collect coins/fundraise for meals
Most of you know about the nutritious meals we pack at our Volunteer Center and ship to our Hope Campus in Sierra Leone to fight malnourishment and keep kids (and now staff) healthy and full of energy. But, have you ever wondered how we supply the lentils, protein, and dried vegetables which are carefully weighed and measured to fill each bag? Or how we manage to provide funds for the shipping container and its long journey across the ocean? The answer is from generous volunteers like you, and the solution is simple. We sat down and did the math, it turns out one quarter – $0.25 – provides one life-sustaining meal! So that random compartment in your car, you know, the one with all the spare change that you ignore because you’ve got the EZ Pass? It’s time to clean out the straw wrappers! And let the kids dig through the couch cushions. In a few weeks maybe you and your family could raise enough for twenty meals ($5). Imagine what a cool moment that would be to celebrate together! This is a major need for our program and has a direct connection to our children and staff in Sierra Leone. We even have containers you can grab for your coin collection adventure – just stop by the Volunteer Center and ask. (Hint: If you’d like to host a meal packing event, we can provide a coin collector or you can set up a page (see above) to fundraise for the meals you’re excited to pack, knowing you are making a huge impact: each bag packed = six meals, each box = 36 bags! We can’t do any of this without your help!)
9. Get involved with our annual events
We do our best to promote annual events like our Running Buffalo 5k/1mile Run, our Kid’s Gala, and our Water Gala so you know the best ways you can get involved as they draw near. Typically, opportunities involve volunteering (for high schoolers and up) leading up to (at our Volunteer Center) and at the events, donating/picking up/acquiring items, attending & fundraising through events, promoting & inviting friends to events. Follow along on our website, social media, and volunteer emails (see above) for the most up to date information!
10. Give your birthday (super simple on facebook) or a Holiday
If you’re looking for a simple, unassuming way to engage the people around you in the passion you have for Let Them LOL, consider a time of year people are interested in giving, anyway! Birthdays are ideal and we’ve seen so many people – young and younger – choose to give away their special day in honor of the cause of clean water (and if you’re forgetful, facebook has made it just about as easy as it gets nowadays, wahoo!). We’ve also had volunteers choose to give part or all of their family Christmas gifts, or even in lieu of Wedding favors or gifts! Challenge yourself and see if the people around you catch the spirit of giving and joy right along with you. Either way, celebrate knowing you spread kindness, hope, and the story of a better future for a community here with a community there!
11. (Bonus) One Drop Buffalo local business partnership
This one may not apply directly to you, but everybody knows somebody. Do you know someone who owns a Buffalo-proud business? Let Them LOL is passionate about partnering with people who care. We’ve found a lot of local businesses care about the efforts we’re making and as they learn more, they find a monthly or annual partnership to be something they’re proud to show support for, just as we’re proud to include them in our community. If this sounds like someone you know, you might want to point them here to learn a bit more, or have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting. We’d love to sit down with them and provide some materials and further details.
So…what did we miss? What innovative ideas have worked for you? What are you dreaming up next? Let us know in the comments! We’re so grateful for each of you who make our Let Them LOL community something truly valuable. May we look for new ways to serve each other (and push our comfort zones a little) each day!