The first part of the year wasn’t that different from most years - we sent Lights & Chargers to Puerto Rico after the earthquakes struck and Chargers to Haiti for a midwife training program with UNFPA. We squeezed in a few in-person events with Rotary, a fundraiser at a local pizza restaurant, and even an epic roof-top dance party hosted by In This Together Events.
Unfortunately things weren’t moving quite as quickly across the globe. With borders closing and stay at home orders in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, our lights (and other humanitarian aid) were stranded through the spring and most of the summer.
But we didn’t let that hold us back - we knew that borders would open again and demand would be higher than ever from students schooling from home in mud huts and midwives who had become frontline medical workers. We hosted our first “Stay At Home Silent Auction & Virtual Event” where our partners spoke directly to the importance of light and power in their work.
We also took the time to rebuild our website to make it more user-friendly, modern and responsive. We built in new tools so that partners could fundraise through our platform and had several successful events with the Universal Human Rights Initiative, Sidewalk Samaritans, and even a virtual Zumba class!
Back in California, as wildfires raged, we partnered with Southern California Edison, the California Fire Foundation and One Step A La Vez to provide education and other resources to low-income, Spanish-speaking communities at high risk of wildfires and Public Safety Power Shutoffs. The grant provided information on power shutoffs and wildfires, got people signed up for alerts and gave them Solar Chargers so that they can power their phones during emergencies.
This Fall was a rush to get lights out to those most in need. While the students from Massachusetts and Ghana weren’t able to do their exchange in person, we were still able to send their Lights and Chargers to Ghana. The students in Ghana distributed these to their less fortunate neighbors living without electricity in rural areas.
In October the Luke Lights for the University of California (UC) Carbon Offset grant finally reached our partners in Tanzania, Solar Sister. We are also working with the UC to transition this effort to a larger project that will help more people across Africa to move away from their dependence on fossil fuels for lighting, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve economic opportunities.
Closer to home, our neighbors in the US are still very much in need of Chargers to stay safe on the streets during the global pandemic and we are working with partners across the country to get light and power into their hands. To the south, our Central American neighbors were hit hard by multiple hurricanes this fall. As global tragedy piled on top of global tragedy we sent lights to Honduras through ChildFund and Community Health Partners - Honduras to aid relief and recovery efforts there.
Combined, we shipped over 25,000 Luke Lights and Solar Chargers to people across the globe in 2020. Every light is hope, opportunity and possibility. We could not have done this without you and we thank you for your support bringing light to people living in darkness.
Year end is always an important time for us: our Luke Lights fly off the shelves as you buy them as gifts for loved ones and build our Buy One | Give One account. This year, Giving Tuesday brought in a new batch of recurring donors who have created our first group of Shining Light partners. Your year-end donations ensure that we can continue to send light and power to those in need. We are grateful for your support this year and if you have capacity, ask that you make a donation to help Change a Life & Light the World.