Five million children die each year because of hunger and malnutrition. That’s why Jean O’Toole took her children to the ChildFund “Poor Children’s Luncheon” in 1975. Back then, when ChildFund was known as Christian Children’s Fund, a fourth of the world’s population was almost always hungry and a tenth was on the brink of death because of starvation.
The luncheon, with a menu of “watered, cold soup; rice, with sauce; vegetable greens and cold tea” was meant to illustrate the needs of poor children around the world. Jean’s daughter still remembers it. Today, Jean’s children and grandchildren have followed her example and are ChildFund sponsors themselves.
Thirty-eight years ago, Jean was left with two children to raise alone. “My kids were bemoaning the fact that life was so tough, so that following Christmas I decided to do something different,” according to a local newsletter article about her dedication to child sponsorship. “We answered an ad in a magazine asking us to support one child in a foreign country who was not as lucky as we were.”
Before making the commitment, Jean called CCF, and the other organizations she was considering, to ask how much of their revenue was applied to programs. Most didn’t know the answer to the question, she remembers, but CCF did. Today ChildFund commits 83 percent of each dollar to helping children.
Jean is proudly committed to ChildFund and takes advantage of the “study tours” offered to give sponsors the chance to see their dollars at work and to meet their sponsored children. Jean has toured several times.
“I had the opportunity to see how the dollars I send every month were used to better a life in the hills of Asia,” she recalled after a trip to Thailand. “I got to see my little seven-year-old girl who was able to attend school, get vaccinations, learn about good health habits while her parents, who earn the equivalent of $500 dollars a year, learned about nutrition.”
From a lunch of watered soup and rice with sauce came a lifetime of love for children in need.
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