AmericaresWhat makes a traveling mom hop a plane for a 24-hour jaunt to a developing country?

For Cynthia Brighton of Southport, Conn., the answer to why she travels to volunteer is simple: She was introduced to AmeriCares by her father two decades ago, and when he passed away in June, she felt compelled to support the organization he loved. Brighton traveled on the AmeriCares Airlift to El Salvador with her 19-year-old daughter Hadley in 2008 and to Mexico in 2007. “That trip launched her love of AmeriCares,” says her mom.

The following summer, Hadley, a student at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA whose goal is to work as a doctor in a Spanish speaking country, volunteered at the AmeriCares clinic in Bridgeport, Conn., and Camp Amerikids, a summer camp for kids with HIV/AIDS. Brighton says her family’s decades-long involvement with AmeriCares has helped teach her three children the importance of giving. “They understand that the world is a small place and it’s nice to help wherever you can,” she says.

Kathleen LaCroix and her daughter Bridget, also a college student, are another mother-daughter team who traveled to El Salvador. Last year, Lacroix brought her other daughter Caitlyn to Mexico. Lacroix became involved with AmeriCares after the Pakistan earthquakes in 2005 when she was looking for a way to donate money to the disaster relief effort. “AmeriCares seemed to get places quickly with the least red tape so we stayed involved with them,” she says.

Last year, LaCroix decided to take Caitlyn, the oldest of her three children, on the airlift to Mexico to witness what kind of effect their donations were having—and with the hope of teaching her children the importance of helping other people here and abroad.

“People say it’s life changing and it is,” says LaCroix. “You realize what type of poverty there is in the world and you realize how a very small amount of money can make a very big difference.” BOX: AmeriCares is a nonprofit disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization based in Stamford, Conn. The group provides both immediate response to disasters in the form of medical supplies and provides support to long-term humanitarian assistance programs.

Since its inception in 1982, AmeriCares has delivered $8 billion of aid to 137 countries. To donate, visit the web site at www.americares.org or call 800-486-HELP (4357).