70,000 is the capacity of the average professional football stadium, and due to COVID-19, 70,000 children and their families in Compassion programs need urgent support. That’s why NRB member Compassion International partnered with professional athletes to launch the “Fill the Stadium” campaign.
Compassion International is the world’s leading authority on holistic child development through sponsorship. In 2020, as the impacts of COVID-19 spread with it around the world, already vulnerable children and their families were left in even greater need.
With over 1,200 fundraising events cancelled due to COVID-19—sporting events, church events, and conferences—an estimated 70,000 children who had recently entered Compassion programs across 25 countries were left without the support that they needed.
“There’s a huge hunger crisis out there: people suffering from extreme poverty, children dying from hunger because of the economic impact of the pandemic,” Ken McKinney, Fill the Stadium spokesperson, said. “It occurred to us that 70,000 is the capacity of the average pro-football stadium. We realized that we had a stadium-sized problem with kids in poverty and that we really needed to find a way to stand in the gap.”
In the absence of traditional means of fundraising, Compassion International partnered with professional sports teams, athletes, and coaches to “fill a stadium of support” for children in their programs. Through this initiative, Compassion children and their families are provided with the food, medical care, and support they need during the pandemic.
“We’re encouraging fans who normally would have spent money on a professional sports game this year to instead support underprivileged kids and their families,” McKinney said.
According to Statista, the average game day experience—including tickets, parking, beverages, food, and programs—for four people costs $541. Through Compassion International, $500 provides a year’s worth of essential food, nutritional supplements, hygiene essentials, and medical screenings for COVID-19 to children and their families in crisis.
So far, Compassion International donors have filled over 49,000 seats.
Among the athletes who have partnered with Compassion to Fill the Stadium are Dakota Dozier of the Minnesota Vikings, Nick Foles of the Chicago Bears, Chris David of the Baltimore Orioles, Alyssa Naeher of the U.S. Women’s National Team, and former Seattle Seahawk, Brock Huard.
Huard is a Christian and says that his faith is central to his philanthropic efforts. For decades, he and his family have sponsored Compassion International children, and his own children have participated in humanitarian trips through Compassion.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt in any of our hearts that the Lord’s opened this door, and we want to do His work and be His hands and feet,” he said. “And in this case, a mouthpiece for serving ‘the least of these.’”
Even as the full effects of COVID-19 are still being realized, Compassion International offers long-lasting support to communities in need by empowering local churches around the world.
“Once you open your eyes to the hurt and the pain and the poverty and the starvation and brokenness around the globe, you realize that COVID is creating another wave of hurt and suffering,” said Huard. “Getting 70,000 kids sponsored is the first step in combating that.”
By supporting and equipping local churches to serve their communities, Compassion is also helping to create opportunities for people to hear the gospel for the first time.
“We give resources to churches to provide literal life-saving food distributions as well as the bread of life,” McKinney said. “Christ calls us to care for the orphan and the widow, to support those in need and to be stewards of what He’s given us. It takes a kingdom mentality for us to make sure we are using the resources that God’s entrusted us with to bless others.”
This is a stadium that cannot remain empty.
Find out more about Fill the Stadium at fillthestadium.com. Connect with them on Facebook and Instagram @FillTheStadium or on Twitter @FillThe_Stadium to learn more, and use #fillthestadium and #compassion.
Photograph courtesy of Compassion International.