Grade 11, right after lunch. The sun has warmed the classroom to nap-inducing temperatures and the staccato clacking of chalk on a dusty blackboard is the only thing keeping you awake—and yet strangely, also lulling you into a stupor. You look over your next assignment without fully understanding it and suddenly find yourself wondering, “Is this really going to be useful in the ‘real world’?”

Sound familiar?

I’m sure many students over the years have questioned their coursework. But for students Lael and Olivia, a school assignment proved to be more than useful in the “real world”: they turned it into an opportunity to address the critical needs of families in crisis.

We asked them to share their stories with us.

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A girl in a blue checked top and glasses smiles at the camera

Lael

My family moved to the Philippines in 2010, when I was five. We’ve been doing mission work there for 11 years now. We live in a tiny village in a valley in the mountains. It’s very beautiful there, but when you’ve lived there for a while it’s easy to forget the beauty and only remember the mud, which is plentiful!

I was offered the choice during my Canadian Civics class to pick a project for my unit exam. The idea of raising money and making a difference in the world excited and intrigued me, so I selected that option. My parents had already been sponsoring Compassion children for many years and we appreciate the fact that Compassion helps not only with physical needs but spiritual as well. So, I decided to fundraise with Compassion.

I can still make even a small difference in the world, right where I am.

The fundraiser I started was for food, health kits, rent money and other things to assist kids and families living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic. I spread the news to my friends about my fundraiser and my parents helped me by sharing it on social media. I also painted some greeting cards and printed them out to send to those who donated.

I used to think I had absolutely no control over some of the terrible situations in this world and how, even if I helped, it still wouldn’t be enough to do anything important. Now I have seen that no matter how busy I am, how young I am or how few resources I have, I can still make even a small difference in the world, right where I am. That has grown my confidence in my ministry future.

I don’t expect to do anything great or largely significant, but the small things add up. If even one person is saved because of me, I will have considered my life a success.

I think this verse is very appropriate: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40). With busy schedules, it might be challenging to work a ministry into your daily routine. But every little thing you do can change a life.

Anything, no matter how big, no matter how small, is worth it when you are doing it for Jesus.

A teen girl in black stands hugging two younger girls

Olivia (centre) and her sisters Daphne and Lauren.

Olivia

COVID-19 has had a major impact on all our lives. For example, it caused me and my sisters, Daphne and Lauren, to be homeschooled. One day, my mom shared about a mission trip she took to Mexico when she was younger. She told a story about seeing hungry kids looking in the dumpsters for food. This story really touched my heart and made me realize how much we have. It also made me feel very convicted to do something about this.

When my mom said she wanted me to do a big year-end project, I chose to raise money for COVID-19 Disaster Relief with Compassion.

At first, I was worried that no one would participate. But we went door-to-door (my sisters helped collect donations—the cuteness factor helped!) and my dad and my aunt both posted about it on Facebook. We also contacted our church and put it in the bulletin.

It was cool how generous people were, and I was surprised when people helped us triple our goal!

Even though we couldn’t see it firsthand, I knew we were making a difference in other people’s lives.

If you’re thinking of starting your own fundraiser, I want to say this: Don’t let your fear stop you. I was a bit intimidated at first and I wondered if we could raise enough funds. But a couple people sent encouraging messages and when people started donating, it was really exciting. It wasn’t just family or our church family, either, but people in the community, too.

It was a neat experience. Even though we couldn’t see it firsthand, I knew we were making a difference in other people’s lives.

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Ready to turn ordinary into extraordinary?

Set up your own fundraiser to address critical needs children around the world are facing, like access to education, safe water and sanitation, infant survival and more. As Olivia said, don’t let fear stop you—we will connect with you to make sure you have what you need to be successful.

Start your fundraiser today.

Written by: Aveleen Schinkel

Aveleen is Compassion Canada's Multimedia Storyteller. Her passions include videography and photography, spending time outdoors and sampling tea from every country she travels to.