Unknowns. It seems to be the major common thread in all of our lives since January brought a global pandemic (and much more followed). Now, we’ve nearly survived seven months in a world that seems a bit unrecognizable.
But Let Them LOL people are no strangers to the unpredictable.
We want to bring some encouragement. We’ve always said we’re ‘a community here with a community there.’ Now, it takes on new meaning.
In March Let Them LOL (like everyone else) had to close our Volunteer Center doors. We were planning and preparing for our annual Kid’s Gala just over a week away. We had just realized a pressing need for meals to be packed. We had volunteer trips abroad planned. We were building a framework for our annual Water Gala. Our annual 5K was around the corner. All of it came to a screeching halt, as the world began taking on a global pandemic and faced a lot of questions.
What did people need most? How could we keep supporting our local and international communities through something so unprecedented? We began to improvise.
We launched a campaign for an emergency ‘Giving Tuesday Now‘ response, hoping to help launch a new clean water packet production and packaging system in Sierra Leone. We were blown away as our community met and even exceeded our $4,000 goal!
We took a risk and re-imagined our Kid’s Gala format. Could we pull off a virtual event? Would our community here be interested? We sent the word out, whispered some desperate prayers, and put in a lot of time and effort. And guess what? It came together! On May 14, so many of you jumped onboard, swinging by to pickup your ‘party in a bag’ then logging on to help create a truly unique and incredible event. Parents had a fun outlet for their kids, and around $1500 was raised for clean water by the littlest members of LTLOL!
As months pressed on, not everything worked out. We had to cancel our major annual 5K event and all upcoming trips to Sierra Leone, our Water Gala planning was thrown into a lurch (more on that soon!), and we temporarily halted any major fundraising promotions as everyone struggled with an uprooted ‘normal‘. With a container shipment scheduled, a sponsor connection opportunity delayed, and a pressing need to provide meals to our campus, we took another leap.
In June we prepped our facility, launched a new website, adjusted for a new protocol, and sent out a huge call for volunteers. We needed to pack 100,000 meals, collect and organize sponsor Christmas gifts and clothing donations, and prep our annual ornament project… all in about a month. Well? You showed up! We re-opened and you braved the mask-wearing, temperature checking, time slot sign-ups, and extreme cleaning to come help our friends. We even met a whole bunch of new volunteers! Amazing. Around a week before our deadline we surpassed our goal of 100,000 meals! Sponsors donated toward Christmas Gifts while volunteers packed, sorted, and documented gifts for over 500 students. Clothing was brought bag by bag, and our meticulous ornament preparation moved steadily along. Then, on July 18, two groups of you packed and said ‘Au revoir‘ to our fully packed shipping container, headed for Sierra Leone!
In the meantime, your steady giving both financially and physically made a huge difference across the ocean. In March schools closed and by April, Sierra Leone reported their first cases of COVID-19. Let Them LOL was able to allocate funds from our most consistent giving toward providing and facilitating focused satellite learning opportunities not only for our Hope Rising Academy, but for our whole community of learners! You helped provide radios, hand-washing stations, medical training, not to mention on-campus sustainable food, healthcare, encouragement, and education; you were a sweeping support at such a crucial time for our neighbors in less than ideal conditions facing a (another) severe virus.
We don’t know all the future will bring, plans are still unstable, and we’re in desperate need of your support as needs remain great. However, we are already seeing something beautiful amidst the difficulty: community.
Here in the waiting space, your choice to come together and alongside our faraway neighbors is shining a light in the darkness.
You – our LTLOL community – are a beautiful reminder that hope is not lost, and we wanted to share the feeling. Together, we will continue onward, come what may. So, thank you. And hang in there!