One Love. One Heart. Bob Marley’s everlasting message about the power of love and solidarity is more important than ever as families face the COVID-19 pandemic and millions call for equality. Until 31 August 2020, jewelry brand Pandora will match every dollar donated to the One Love activation, up to US$1 million. Donate here.
I’m writing this on Mother’s Day weekend in New York City. My own dear Mother has passed, but the lessons she taught me about generosity live on in me.
You might be surprised that one of my fondest childhood memories includes my Mom and UNICEF.
Halloween is a great time to be a kid. Like most Canadians, I remember Trick or Treating with my snowsuit under my costume because winter in northern Ontario comes early most years.
I carried the little orange UNICEF donation box along with my treat bag.
My mother would send me out into the cold with the reminder that to someone whom much is given, much is expected. I didn’t know it then but collecting those coins was my first experience of philanthropy.
Flash forward a few decades.
Today I’m Chief of Brand for UNICEF. Unbelievably for this little northern Canadian girl, I get to spend my days defending and strengthening our most valuable organizational asset – our brand – and sharing stories about UNICEF’s lifesaving and life-changing work with children to millions of supporters around the world.
It’s the best job in the world. But it’s not mine alone. It’s ours. It’s not just a job for today, it’s a purpose for living.
The wise sisters at my convent school in North Bay, Ontario would often say, “Spend your life on something that will outlast it.”
A stronger UNICEF is an investment we are making for future generations of children in our own country and around the world who will long need our organization’s steadfast heart to fight for their rights. And right now, those rights are in crisis, threatened by one of the biggest enemies we’ve ever seen – COVID-19.
I believe in us. This isn’t the first time UNICEF has stared down a pandemic, a global health crisis or a challenge that seemed impossible to overcome. We know what to do and we are doing it. Our history tells me this is a battle that we can win, but only if we do it together.
My donation says to me and to you, “I’m in it”. This isn’t just my job, this is my mission. If I don’t believe in our collective power, who will?
Giving to UNICEF’s Reimagine campaign helps me live the UNICEF value of accountability in a very real and tangible way.
A short time ago, a note from a UNICEF supporter in the U.S. crossed my desk. He’s a businessman, the executive director of a company. This is what he wrote:
“I am a prime example of your global effort success. When I was back home in Iran in the early 60s my family received help from you all. I loved and still have the taste of the hot milk in my mouth that was served by UNICEF at my elementary school every morning. Keep up the good work, there are an enormous number of unprivileged people in the world.”
We’re the same age, this man and me. I also grew up in the 1960s. Our childhoods couldn’t have been more different.
I like to think the pennies I collected in my little orange UNICEF box somehow made my way to him. If one child’s fortune could have changed so dramatically in fifty years, imagine what the future will hold for the children we are helping today.
Imagine what it will hold for the children who are helped with this campaign?
Mary Lynn Lalonde is Chief of Brand at UNICEF HQ in New York.