I saw a video on facebook yesterday of a man who looked like my brother, with a kid behind him holding a large container of water. I clicked to play the video because it looked like my brother. Little did I know I’d be posting about it today.

It was a video of the Cold Water Challenge, which I learned is apparently a trend spin-off of the Polar Plunge…an attempt to raise money for charity while doing something crazy to attract attention, like jumping in cold water.

I rarely get on Instagram, but when I do, it’s to see what my youth are up to (or to post stuff that the church is doing). When I looked this morning I found that some of my youth, too, are doing the Cold Water Challenge. But like the guy in the video, it’s not about jumping into cold water as much as it is pouring cold water over your own head…and then challenging others to do it also.

Seeing that they were involved, I looked up various articles to find out just what this Cold Water Challenge IS. I read this article. (disclaimer: I am not promoting anything related to the page or its ads or other videos, pictures, or articles…just the content that explains the Cold Water Challenge.)

It’s silly, it’s fun, and I LOVE the idea that this challenge could really draw people to be mindful of supporting charities and justice organizations while having fun. Unfortunately, I see many of the postings/videos don’t include the actual “giving to charity part.”

In case you didn’t read the article, here is how it works:

1. You are nominated to complete the challenge by someone who has done just that.

2. You have 24 hours to complete the challenge AND donate $10 or $20 to the charity of choice as defined by the person nominating you.

3. If you are unable to complete the challenge, you donate $50 or $100 to the charity they defined.

4. The amount of the donations varies. The most common is $10 if you complete it, $100 if you do not. 

5. If you complete the challenge, upload the video of you completing it to Facebook or Youtube and nominating 5 more individuals to Facebook.

It bothers me that the charity piece has been forgotten. This trend has real potential to make a big difference in charities and justice organizations that are important to the people starting the challenge. Think: matching grant times however many people take the challenge! The cool thing about it is that even kids can participate in this.

(Now, I have also read several articles this morning warning parents about the Cold Water Challenge. It IS dangerous for anyone to jump in extreme cold waters, especially for children. So be smart about the type of water challenge you participate in. It could be a gatorade container filled with ice water, it could be a cup of water, a dunk tank, a bathtub…whatever you do, be careful, especially with children.)

I wasn’t aware that the Polar Plunge was a charity thing until Jimmy Fallon and Mayor Rahm Emanuel did it back in March to raise money for the Special Olympics. It certainly drew a lot of attention, and raised a LOT of money for the Special Olympics. Yet, of course, the media was more concerned with what the two were going to wear than they were about bringing attention to the Special Olympics aspect of it. And again, with this Cold Water Challenge, it’s easy to lose sight of the charity piece and just pour water over your head. But I challenge you to see this as an easy, fun way to fulfill God’s calling to care for our neighbors in need.

I challenge you to think of an organization you care about, or a cause you care about, and start a Cold Water Challenge with your network of people. Brownie points if it’s a local organization whose funding stream is most likely much smaller than national/international groups. MY challenge is that if you do the Cold Water Challenge, you don’t forget the giving to charity part. Further, that if you see others doing the Cold Water Challenge, you ask them what charity they gave to. That was the point all along. Not to shame them, but to advocate for caring for our neighbors. Let’s step outside of ourselves for a few moments and not become so wrapped up in the fun parts of this challenge (or of life, really) that we lose sight of opportunities to love our neighbors.

Perhaps that IS the actual challenge, not the cold water part.

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