12 countries; 12 months: Charlotte family volunteers 'round the world

12 countries; 12 months: Charlotte family volunteers 'round the world

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by MICHELLE BOUDIN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @MichelleBoudin

WCNC.com

Posted on December 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 12 at 7:55 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- By now you've heard-- today is once in a lifetime-- 12-12-12.
We found a Charlotte family with their own twist on the number. They traveled to 12 countries in 12 months volunteering at every stop along the way.

Wednesday the family kicked off a new project: a non-profit to help other families do the same thing.

“I’d just been thinking about it a lot,” said Jackson Lewis. He was 13 when he came home from school one day with a question for his dad. He said, 'Dad we have this incredible life, how come were not doing more to make a difference in the world?'"
 
"And I have to say I was shocked because when I was 13 that was not on my mind,” said J.D., Jackson's dad.
 
J.D. is a single dad to Jackson and younger brother Buck, who had an idea.

“I said, 'What if we went out into the world and really discovered what people needed?'”
9-year-old Buck explains, ”The whole idea was that we should go and help people.”

They spent a year doing just that.
 
Now 15, Jackson rattles off some of the places they visited, volunteering in each country, “We started in Berlin and then Russia China, Thailand, India, Egypt, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Australia.”
 
Twelve months. Twelve countries. They worked at schools, orphanages and animal rescue operations.
 
Buck said, ”It was really great, we got to bond--all of us, we had a blast.”

J.D. gets emotional saying the thing he was most proud of, “I’m really proud of the fact that my kids are empathetic, caring individuals, and to see your kids in action, really wanting to make a difference in the world is so gratifying.”

Now back in Charlotte, the trio has formed the Twelve in Twelve foundation to help send other families on similar humanitarian trips and raise money and awareness for some of the organizations they worked with on their trip.

The non-profit raises money for the organizations they worked with, and to help send other families on humanitarian trips
 
"Lots of people who volunteer, they go and volunteer, but then they come home - we just want to make sure there’s continuous help going out,” Jackson said.  
 
If you’d like more information on their trip or the new foundation, check out www.twelveintwelve.org.

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