THE BLOG
07/24/2015 03:47 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2016

What If You Saved One Life This Year?

What if you chose to save one life this year? What if you cared enough to do something about children who are suffering?

You can do it. It is simply a matter of choosing to, or choosing not to. Most reading will choose not to. Most reading will stop right here, thinking they are too busy to save a life this year, or don't know where to start. I think you want to make a difference, though. I believe you would like to save a life of a child in need.

Is it that there are too many children for us to care for? According to a study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that tracks the overall well-being of children in the United States, 22% of children in America live in poverty. 22 %. That's 1 out of every five children in our nation; staggering statistics that should leave you concerned. Where is the alarm, though, in our nation? Government passes legislation, policies and programs are designed, promises are made that no child will be left behind, and civic groups pledge to help children in need. Yet, much of it is talk, as nothing is done and no one seems to care enough to act. To be sure, the number of children living in poverty has risen over the past eight years, and shows no sign of decreasing. The same can be applied to the foster care system, as more and more children are placed into foster care, despite the fact that there are fewer foster parents and foster homes for these children to care for them.

Rescue the weak and the needy, and deliver them from the hand of the wicked. Do these words ring true to you? Do these words speak about children living in poverty, as well as foster children? They certainly do to me. Children in foster care are weak. Children in poverty are needy. Most importantly, thousands of children in our nation need to be rescued. This is what foster parents do; we rescue them by providing a safe and stable home for them. We clothe and feed them. We provide clean beds and a safe environment for them. But, perhaps most importantly, we are to love them.

You have probably heard the tale of the starfish. The author is unknown, yet it is a very popular story, and one that is told often. It is a story of a life being saved. It is a story of making a difference.

A man and his boy were walking along a deserted beach at sunrise. The night before, there had been a fierce and terrific storm. Now, hours later, the boy was curious what the storm brought, and asked his father to take him for a walk. When they stepped onto the beach, they were met with thousands of starfish, littering the beach. The sea creatures had been washed up onto the shore from the brutal storm, hundreds in each direction. Soon after the two began walking on the wet sands, the boy bent down and picked up a starfish, throwing it far into the ocean. After doing so, he then bent down and picked up another one, and threw that one into the water, as well. This went on for quite some time; starfish after starfish were thrown back into the ocean by the young boy. After watching his son for some time, the father was confused about what his son was hoping to accomplish and finally asked, "Son, what are you doing?"

"I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean," the young boy answered.

"I see. Tell me, please, why are you doing this?" the father continued questioning.

"Well Dad, the storm has washed all of these starfish onto the beach last night, and they can't return to the ocean by themselves," his son responded. "When the sun comes out, and starts warming up the beach, the starfish will all die. They won't have oxygen, and won't survive. The sun will also make it too hot for them. I have to throw them back into the water." As he said this, his son continued picking up the starfish, and throwing them back into the waters.

"But son, you can't possibly save all of these starfish. Just look, there are hundreds and thousands of them along the beach. It's useless. You can't possibly make a difference."

The boy stopped for a moment to take in his father's words. Frowning, he looked down at the starfish around his feet. Then, the boy bent down, and picked up another starfish in his hand, before throwing it as far as he could back into the ocean. Turning to his father with a large grin spreading across his face, he simply said, "It made a huge difference for that one!"

That's you. You can make a huge difference in the life of just one child this year. Instead of admiring the foster parent who is caring for a traumatized child in their home, you can become a foster parent to a child in need. Instead of commenting that the others are saints and angles for spending time with kids in need, you can become a mentor or a Big Brother or Sister. You could even adopt a child who is looking for a forever family. Yes, these all take sacrifices on your behalf. You are correct when you say to yourself that none of these are necessarily easy and time free. It will most likely be difficult, and you might even run the risk of disappointment, frustration, and heart ache. Yet, will these challenges be more difficult than it is for the child in poverty living blocks away from you? Will the sacrifice of your own time be any more difficult for the child who is being abused and neglected in your own neighborhood? You have it within you to change the future of a child, to bring joy and happiness to a child who is hurting, to save a life.

What if you chose to save one life this year?

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Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 13 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 45 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several foster care books, including the brand new book Helping Foster Children in School: A Guide for Foster Parents, Caseworkers, and Teachers, and writes for several publications, including Fostering Families Today magazine. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, He can be contacted at drjohndegarmo@gmail, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website, http://drjohndegarmofostercare.weebly.com.