Youth helping Houston
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. – Most of the time, when disaster strikes, people are left feeling helpless, and justifiably so.
It’s difficult to watch friends and fellow American citizens suffer and have no way to help them. Such is the case for many in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. What can people do besides pray? A group in Terre Haute, Ind., is attempting to find out.
Hoosier Teens for Houston is reaching out to teens in Terre Haute as well as Paris and Marshall, rallying together to make a real impact for the people of Texas. They want to give people, especially teens, opportunities to learn the joy of giving to those who really need it.
The group started out with just the Leschorn and Lenderman families. Erica Leschorn and Shannon Lenderman are sisters known for following through on what often seem like crazy ideas. Along with their families, they make a fearless team to tackle new challenges.
“We’re like Moses and Aaron,” Lenderman says of her and Leschorn. “We make a really good team.”
The idea to start a group for collecting supplies for Houston began from a normal conversation. Lenderman suggested going to Houston and helping with animal rescue.
“I thought she was kidding,” said Rose Leschorn, Lenderman’s niece and one of the teens in charge of Hoosiers for Houston.
What started as sporadic brainstorming of fun ideas quickly became a plan. Now the families plan to collect supplies, drive them to Texas, stay a few days to volunteer, collect rescue animals on the way back, and possibly do the whole thing over again, depending on how much support they raise.
Immediate needs for the people of Texas, such as food and water, are already being taken care of by organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation Army. However, the needs of the people in Houston don’t stop there. All the stores have been wiped out. Nursing homes have been emptied and people with disabilities are displaced. Wheelchairs for these people are nearly impossible to find, along with other daily needs and comforts.
Hoosier Teens for Houston plans to fill two large vans with supplies and U-Haul has also donated a trailer to fill. Others who wants to use their personal vehicles to deliver materials are welcome to join the group. Once in Texas, they will work to organize and hand out supplies to victims.
“We’re recruiting teen ambassadors to work with their youth groups on this,” says Leschorn. Everyone with a heart for service is encouraged to join in and lend a hand, but there is definitely a focus on teen leadership in this project.
Most places require volunteers to be aged 14 and up, but the organization Hoosiers Teens for Houston is working with, World Trust, allows younger children to serve and takes volunteers in whatever capacity they are able.
“If you can sort something, you can help,” Leschorn says.
Though their hearts for service is one thing driving the families leading Hoosiers Teens for Houston, there are other reasons the teens are being encouraged and supported in their plans.
“This is for my kids,” says Lenderman. “It’s to teach them service. I want to teach them to go do something, not just give money and say ‘you go do it.’”
Lenderman referenced two Christian songs popular on the radio “We Are The Body” and “Do Something” as additional explanation.
“I think a lot of times, in these situations, when we ask God to do something, he’s telling us ‘you are what I’m doing,’” says Lenderman.
The Leschorn twin teen daughters, Rose and Sarah, are not intimidated by the work they are undertaking.
“Nobody deserves to go through what the people of Houston are going through,” said Sarah Leschorn. “We just want to try to make it less difficult for them.”
“I think this reminds the rest of our country how lucky they are,” adds Rose Leschorn. “It makes us more grateful.”
To some, an undertaking like the one the families are facing is huge and intimidating, but not for the families involved.
For the two families, it is not a question of why they would go to Houston, but rather, why not?
“There is nothing that makes you happier as a human being than to give,” says Leschorn. “I want these kids to know the joy in giving.”
The group accepts monetary donations but mostly wants help collecting supplies. Anything relating to personal hygiene, baby needs, first aid or medicine will be put to good use. Some of the highest priority items are feminine products, baby and adult diapers, baby wipes and sealable plastic storage containers. An official supply list can be found on the Hoosiers for Houston Facebook page.
“Basically, anything you can buy in a pharmacy without a prescription is what they need,” says Leschorn.
Hoosier Teens for Houston is expanding and inviting the teens of Edgar County to join with them in helping out their fellow American citizens. Those interested in being ambassadors for their churches, youth groups or schools can attend an information meeting at 6 p.m. EST today.
Since the meeting is at a private home, the address is not being made public. Potential ambassadors can obtain more information by contacting Erica Leschorn at (812) 821-8483.