Updated on 12.05.08

The Simple Dollar’s Christmas Charity for 2008: Jump for Joel

Trent Hamm

DSC00161.jpg by Shaney.2 on Flickr!Each year, I like to highlight a charity that’s near and dear to my heart and encourage readers, if they’re considering donating money to a charity during the holiday season, to look carefully at this charity.

This year, my charity of choice is Jump for Joel.

What’s Jump for Joel? Jump for Joel‘s mission is to directly improve the baseline living conditions and educational opportunities for impoverished children in sub-saharan Africa, particularly in orphanage situations. They do this through directly sponsoring volunteers to travel to that region in Africa, as well as directly buying supplies for children in such situations (school supplies, toilets, etc.).

The charity was started in 2007 by a University of Illinois – Springfield student who spent two weeks on a volunteer project at the Gathiga Children’s Hope Home in Nairobi, Kenya. The conditions that the orphaned children lived in shocked her into action, bringing her to start Jump for Joel (named after one of the children in that orphanage).

I became aware of Jump for Joel through my sister-in-law, who spent much of the summer of 2008 volunteering in an orphanage in Romania. It was through this experience that she became acutely interested in what she could do here at home to help out children in such impoverished situations, and through that she became a part of the Jump for Joel team.

What have they done? Since its inception, Jump for Joel has raised almost $20,000 for the Gathiga Children’s Hope Home, which enabled the home to construct a two toilet outhouse, a stone entrance gate, bunk beds, a functional kitchen, a roof over the room where the children sleep, and floors and walls for the classroom and sleeping rooms. Currently, the project is focusing on buying doors and windows for the sleeping rooms, and they intend to branch out from there into other homes and orphanages in the area.

Jump for Joel also engages in partnerships with churches in the Springfield area for other fundraisers, raising money for school supplies for the children as well.

Why do I support Jump for Joel? As I’ve discussed before, I tend to lean towards supporting charities to which I have a personal connection, so I can personally witness the passion and sincerity that is being brought to the table.

With Jump for Joel, I can see this passion in the eyes and actions of my sister-in-law. Her deep passion for helping disadvantaged children runs through almost every aspect of her life, from her college major to her many, many years spent working for day care homes and centers (dating back to when she was twelve) and her time spent abroad volunteering to help disadvantaged children.

It often seems to me as though helping disadvantaged children is what she was born to do, and Jump for Joel is a framework in which she (and others with a similar perspective as her) can channel her work and passion to bring real change to children’s lives.

Another factor which drew me in as a fan of Jump for Joel is their openness. One only has to browse their website for a few minutes to see this – they write blog postings that detail their activities, produce podcasts to describe what they’re doing and share ideas, and actively respond to pretty much any question you might have as soon as you ask it. I find their YouTube channel to be particularly interesting, as it provides a great visual description of their mission that text and audio just can’t quite provide.

Explore the Jump for Joel website for a bit and you can just feel the passion bubbling under the surface.

How can you support Jump for Joel? The biggest thing you can do to support Jump for Joel is to donate a few dollars to them via PayPal. The money directly goes to improve the living conditions and further the educational opportunities of truly impoverished children.

If you don’t have money to spare but would like to keep tabs on their good work (and also promote the cause a little bit), you can follow their blog or become a fan of Jump for Joel on Facebook.

My wife and I are planning on giving several people gifts for Christmas that are donations in their name to Jump for Joel. I hope you’ll consider doing the same.

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  1. Your Friendly Neighborhood Computer Guy says:

    Thanks for brining this to our attention Trent. Everyone should try to find some way to give a little to those in need this holiday season.

    My holiday charities are more traditional and domestic: Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. But the point is to find some way to give back and spread the cheer outside your immediate family and friends!

  2. That’s great! My husband and I are probably going to donate to the Living Water International organization(it’s been highlighted by the Advent Conspiracy people).

  3. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Feel free to link to your favorite charity in the comments, using the URL field of the fill-in box.

  4. I’m very grateful that you blogged about this charity, and have been enjoying reading your postings for several weeks, ever since someone on a homeschooling loop recommended them to me.

    However, I strongly disagree with making donations to charities and then presenting that fact to friends to explain why they won’t be receiving a gift on a holiday.

    Giving to a charity has nothing to do with the fact that it’s traditional to give gifts to loved ones at certain times of the year. If a friend has mentioned a particular charity repeatedly and said wistfully that she wished she could make a sizable donation to them, doing so in her name would be a genuine gift, because it’s something she wants. But that’s what a gift is: thinking about someone you care about and figuring out what they’d like to receive. If your friends don’t like getting gifts, that’s a whole separate issue. “Giving” someone the fact that you donated to a charity is a non sequitur and smacks of self-righteousness to boot. “Oh, thanks. Um…I got you these socks with the little reindeer noses on them, ’cause we saw them once and you said how cute they were. I think I’ll go home and feel like a jerk now.”

    Give to good charities, and encourage other people to do so. Just don’t try pulling a two-fer with it.

    I’m now going to go clean my bathroom, edit my magazine, and renew my subscription to the publicly supported radio station I enjoy, all of which are good and necessary things to do and none of which get me off the hook for going to my mother-in-law’s for Christmas.

  5. joan says:

    I believe that giving to a charity is really a good idea, my own favorite is Toys for Tots. However, I think I’d personally rather not receive a gift from someone than get a memo that money had been given to someone in place of a personal gift. Personally, I have already taken several adults off my list; and have requested that they take me off of their list; but I will continue to give to the same charity.

  6. Michelle says:

    I linked to Warm Woolies. It’s an organization that takes donated hand-knitted items for orphanages in East Europe, Asia, and Native American Reservations here in the US. It’s a great charity to donate to if you enjoy knitting/crocheting and would like to use your talents for good.

    Another good one is the National WW2 museum “Knit Your Bit” campaign. You make scarves and send them to the museum. They work with the VA to distribute them to homeless veterans.

    I like these, because they accept actual knitted/crocheted goods, which is a bit easier for me to donate than money. I always have a project going, and I like the more personal touch of donating something I made rather than just giving money. But that’s just me!!

  7. Georgia says:

    I am sending books to the Camel Library in Kenya. Their bookmobile is a camel and they need books in English or Swahili so they can learn to read and write. This is a way I can help them help themselves.

  8. Georgia says:

    I cannot find the website for the Camel Bookmobile, but the correspondent has the e-mail address of masha@mashahamilton.com. She has kept me up on what I can send.

  9. Nancy says:

    This sounds like a good organization Trent. I am supporting the MORE project which takes kids off the streets in the worst parts of Brazl and feeds them, clothes them and gets them a place to live. Keep up the good work.


  10. m says:

    We will again take an angel off the angel tree, donate food to the local food pantry, and send money to the animal shelter in Benald Illinois.

  11. Lea says:

    What about the impoverished or needy in our own American nation? I personally think we all need to look at the downtrodden at home before we donate to oversea missions or projects when it is a statistical fact that we have entire families living in their cars…The United Way (your local chapter or whatever) will know where to put the donations and where they will be given to those with the most need and it is more guaranteed that what you are giving is going to who needs it here, in OUR country. We have many needy children here in each and every state, or send aid into our Native American brothers’ and sisters’ Reservations! as many live with no electricity or running water…even in the winter, in the USA.
    I also liked the comment someone else made about the Angel Tree, a beautiful idea to help here in the USA. Best Holiday wishes to everyone :)

  12. AnnJo says:

    This sounds like a wonderful organization and since it’s her passion, a gift to it in your sister-in-law’s name would probably bring her great joy.

    Whether gifts to charities in someone else’s name make good gifts deserves some careful thought, though. While a gift in my name to one of MY favorite charities would make me very happy, I have to say that a gift to someone ELSE’s pet charity in my name would not seem like a very thoughtful one. That would be a little like the cook in the household giving a shiny new kitchen gadget to the non-cook – more oriented to the needs or desires of the giver than the recipient.

    Attachments to charities are almost as personal as to political causes (and often overlap). I still remember with distaste a wedding invitation I received years ago that asked that in lieu of gifts the guests give donations to a charity that I personally thought was a cynical fraud. I could appreciate the thought that the bride and groom, being well established in life, needed no gifts and wanted to do good, still there was sure no “joy in giving” in writing out that check.

  13. Lisa says:

    The link to Angel Tree is below. Listen, there are some kids in your town who have it tougher than than the other kids. It is not their fault. They are just kids. A little help now can make a big difference later.

  14. shana of j4j says:

    Trent- THANK YOU SO MUCH for supporting Jump for Joel! It is such an honor. The Gathiga orphanage has had a rough fall due to rising food costs; our work there has never been more important.

    Again, THANK YOU! And your sis-in-law – is she amazing or what?! We might become roommates next semester!

    Merry Christmas, Trent!

  15. Pearl says:

    Thanks for posting this.

    The picture of Joel on the site is adorable and it reminded me so much of the kids I teach here in Japan. It almost made me cry right here at work.

    The fact that he is an HIV+ orphan is incomprehensible to me, and those pictures somehow turn the HIV epidemic in Africa into something much more real and horrific.

    We are so much richer than we realize.

  16. dan says:

    I used to live in Kenya, and believe I visited this orphanage once to distribute food. I had not heard of this charity before, but I applaud these young women for their work. Thanks for spreading the word!

    If you’re interested, another great charity is Kenya Kids Can. It’s run by a friend of mine who won the CNN Hero Award last year. He distributes food to school children and sets up computer centers.

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