The Most Inspiring Person of 2009 (declared by Beliefnet.com) is a 12 year old young man from Tampa, Florida named Zach Bonner. “He was nominated for living his conviction that no one is ever too young to change the world. He was selected for his compassionate, selfless service to homeless children.”
Zach’s volunteer work began when he was 6 years old! After Hurricane Charlie hit Florida in 2004, Zach wandered around his neighborhood and collected 27 pickup trucks’ of water in his little red wagon (that is now the name of his non–profit organization, Little Red Wagon Foundation). Since then, he has teamed up with Standup for Kids and collected 400 backpacks of supplies for homeless children. He organized Christmas parties for kids in Baker, Louisiana and most recently raised $25,000 with his “My House to the White House” project.
And Zach isn’t the only amazing young Samaritan. Austin Gutwien didn’t make Stoneybrooke’s school’s basketball team when he was 9 years old. That disappointment and a pen pal relationship with a child in Africa started him on a journey to help kids who are orphaned by AIDS. His thought was to shoot free throws and raise money for the orphans. As his idea caught hold with school children, Austin started an organization called Hoops of Hope.
Since those early days, Austin has raised thousands of dollars and funded several projects in Africa. Through a partnership with World Vision, Austin’s Hoops of Hope has built a school for the orphans and a medical testing lab in Zambia. And he is not done yet.
These two stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of young people across the world are championing causes and working to meet the needs of others less fortunate.
What an example for all us adults. This week pause and consider the familiar story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). A man was beaten, robbed and left half dead by the side of the road. Two religious guys passed by and ignored his needs. A Samaritan (remember, the Samaritans were a group of people who normally would have nothing to do with a Jew) not only stopped to see about the man, but bandaged him, carried him to a shelter and paid for additional care.
When Jesus told the story, He finished with a question, “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” The answer was “the one who showed mercy toward him.” And then Jesus gave them and us our “Marching Orders.” GO AND DO THE SAME!
Let the example of Zach and Austin reverberate in your heart this week. Get involved. Share. Care. Volunteer. Give. Go. Let’s not let the kids steal all the blessings!