BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) – At 10 years old, Caleb Newell considered why the hundreds of babies he and his family visited in a Chinese orphanage weren’t crying. Perhaps they were all cried out.
“When you walk in, you could hear a pin drop. They weren’t crying because no one was coming up to help them anymore, because there’s too (few) caregivers. They know that if they cry, no one’s going to come to their need.
“It was just really saddening. It grieved me.”
Caleb, now 18, considered those babies when he and his siblings birthed Stand for Orphans in 2015, a nationwide initiative of Lifeline Children’s Services that the organization says has raised nearly $450,000 by mobilizing children to raise money for foster children and orphans globally.
Caleb’s father Herbie Newell, Lifeline’s president and executive director, said Stand for Orphans started in his living room. His children, then 10, 8 and 5, begged their mother to let them open a lemonade stand for the summer.
The $7 they raised by selling lemonade and dog treats at a local dog park piqued their interest.
“They said we want to give this to children that Dad works with through Lifeline,” Newell told Baptist Press. “We want to give this back to orphans around the world.”
A series of lemonade stands the children hosted that summer raised about $100, and Caleb and his sisters Adelynn and Emily imagined what the impact would be if other children across the nation joined in.
A family friend who agreed to match nationwide receipts early in the program fulfilled his commitment, Newell said, but bowed out after giving a $50,000 match in one summer alone.
Children in all 50 states and 14 nations have participated in the program, using their skills beyond lemonade to sell baked goods or crafts, mow lawns or pet sit. Primarily a summer outreach, Stand for Orphans can include outreaches year-round, especially at Christmas.
There’s no age requirement to participate, but parents are encouraged to remain close by as children conduct outreaches.
About 30 percent of funds raised provide clothing, school supplies and counseling for orphans stateside. The remaining 70 percent is used internationally, supporting a school for deaf and blind children in Uganda, a discipleship and job training program in Liberia, and a home for children in Bangalore, India, among other needs.
Teaching children the value of caring for others, and helping children see their individual capacity to do so, are among Stand for Orphans’ goals.
“What we begin to teach our children today are the things that are going to last for a lifetime,” Newell said. “Adults don’t just wake up and decide that they’re going to be generous. Just like any spiritual discipline, it comes with work, it comes with discipline.”
Newell believes generosity develops like muscle memory.
“We want to start exercising that muscle memory in the lives of children to say, ‘There’s something bigger than me,’” Newell said. “At a time in this country where there’s so much prosperity, we want to help kids see that there are needs around the world that you don’t have to be an adult to meet.”
Free resources to participate in Stand for Orphans are available at lifelinechild.org/stand.
Caleb, enrolling in Samford University this fall, said the program continues to impact his life.
“I really hope that the children who participate will be able to see slightly what I’ve seen, that there’s a big need around the world for kids that are unadopted,” Caleb said. “I just think it’s a great way to raise this upcoming, young generation to be a giving people who will want to give to others that are in need.”