When you see a movie that makes you stop in your tracks and really reconsider life in general, that's a movie worth paying for a million times over. Beasts of the Southern Wild is that kind of flick. All that I knew about the film before seeing it was that it's an indie darling and came highly recommended by friends. I didn't know that it would change my life.
I am so completely transformed and here's why (without giving it away...fear not!): it gets to the core of childhood confidence, bliss and naiveté alike. But, more than that, the film makes you want to help. The acting is superb. Quvenzhane' Wallis' character, Hushpuppy, carries the weight of the world on her shoulders. As we are introduced to her world, I couldn't help but notice the accompanying squalor and filth. She is surrounded by it but it does not define her. Hushpuppy is strong-willed and extremely enchanting. She is very much a part of a small community called The Bathtub, and when it, and in turn her own father, are threatened, she proceeds with resilience and pride.
Children can do that. Although The Bathtub is fictitious, it can be anywhere in America. There are children right now that don't know where they are going to get their next meal. They miss days of school on end, and parents never follow up with concerned teachers. But, like in Beasts of the Southern Wild, well intentioned people of means want to help, but do it in all of the wrong ways. Many times, they may try and remove children from the only homes they have ever known. This is frightening and counter-productive. Children need to feel safe and secure and they may get that amidst what you or I view as unacceptable living conditions.
Watch Hushpuppy and you, too, will feel her creative energy and power. Be inspired to help change the circumstances of children like her. But if you can do more than write a check and mail it away, do it. Although a nice gesture, it's pivotal to make an impact on a much greater level. How? Let me introduce you to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. I'm sure that you are familiar with their work. They build houses for low income families but they do so much more than that. They provide children with a space of their own.
One of the projects that Habitat for Humanity recently completed teamed them up with W!LDBRAIN Entertainment, aka, the folks behind the super rad Yo Gabba Gabba. When a single mother, Amanda, and her three children moved into a Habitat home of their very own, her children had a hard time transitioning. They were used to sharing one bed (that's five people) in a house that they rented with thirteen other people. The girls are big Yo Gabba Gabba fans so WildBrain teamed up with Holly Westhoff , a great designer that offers advice for designing on a budget (also known as a DIYer). All not these people volunteered their time to make a room that would be comforting and soothing to young children not used to sleeping on their own. Watch the video and you will understand the impact that it has on these girls. They are crying tears of pure bliss.
I urge you to provide that kind of happiness to a child less fortunate than yourself. If you have kids, please encourage them to participate in an activity that really helps them understand what children their age may be up against. In this age of "gimmes" and "I need" and excess galore, it may be easy to forget to be grateful for all that we do have. No longer. Look around and offer a hand when you might not have. Still not sure how to help? Get involved with building a playground in a low income neighborhood with the wonderful KaBoom. Set up a lemonade stand with your children and raise money for Alex's Lemonade. The opportunities are endless. We need to be the change we want to see in the world, or we will forever regret not having done a thing.
Post more charity ideas in the comments section below. This is only the beginning, folks.