Volunteers Arrive In Mississippi

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

J. D. Lewis has enough bracelets on his arm to make any world traveler jealous.

"This one is from Australia and that's from Haiti," Lewis says pointing out the various bands.

His journey however, through 12 countries in 12 months, is more than just an extended vacation.

"To actually go out and live with people from another culture and see what you can do to help, it's so gratifying," said Lewis.

For him and his sons, Jackson, 15, and Buck, 9, lending a helping hand became a call to action.

"My son came home from school one day and said, 'Dad we have this incredible life, how come we're not doing more to make a difference in the world,'" said Lewis.

From there the trio set out to do just that, putting their lives on hold for a full year to volunteer and help where they could from poverty stricken slums in Africa to more exotic locations in South America.

"We mostly worked in schools, orphanages, hospitals and townships. We did some animal rescue in some of the countries," said Lewis.

Their journey is now ending in Mississippi. On Friday, they were in Jackson serving food to a long line of kids at Operation UPWARD, a faith-based community center serving area youth.

Derider Harris Glover with the commission for volunteer service says you don't have to travel the world to make a difference. She says even the smallest efforts like serving a plate or sorting donations can go a long way.

"All of these things are tiny things that we can do in our lives but have great impact on the state and the nation and as the Lewis' have shown, the world," said Glover.

Even in their travels, Lewis says you never have to look far to find a need.

"Though we've traveled all over the world, there are places in that states that can use our help as well," said Lewis. "Volunteering is such a great thing and you feel good. It's not like an effort or work."

The family will leave the Jackson area in a few days and head to South Mississippi where they'll continue their efforts before returning home to North Carolina. They decided to come to the Magnolia State because they have family living here.

They've even documented their year long journey which can be found at www.twelveintwelve.org

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