Elizabeth over at “That Married Couple” convinced me that I needed to share this post that’s been swimming in my head all weekend.

She writes about times in your life where you just have to “take the hint” that God’s trying to tell you something about your life. For her it’s been humility, for me it’s been charity.

About half way through this year I started to call this my “Year of Charity”, not because I had set a New Year’s resolution to do more good works or not even that it had been a conscious decision. I just suddenly found myself doing more for other. In a list form it might not seem like a lot, and no I haven’t built houses or donated gobs of money to my favorite organization. That wasn’t what this year was about. I’ve always been the type of person to give my spare change to the Salvation Army Ringers and chip in when needed. But something was telling me that this just wasn’t enough; I was on a path to discover a more personal side of charity this year and didn’t know it.

I’ll start by telling the things I’ve done, I hope this doesn’t come off as me assuming I’ve “bragging rights” or anything. Some of it I’ve talked about before and some of it I haven’t, this is just simply my year.

The LDS Boys

Being friendly and hospitable. I know, you’re probably thinking that this isn’t charity, but I beg to differ. A smile and a few nice words can make such a difference. Just this weekend I was stopped as I was walking to my complex by two young men, obviously LDS missionaries. They were lost and needed to find a particular street. I honestly did not know where the street was, but when I got inside I whipped up mapquest and found it. I couldn’t find them when I went back outside, but decided to keep an eye on the window. Sure enough about ten minutes later they were knocking on the doors in my building. I ran outside and told them I had looked up the street and where it was at. They were very thankful and sweet. They told me they were LDS missionaries and I replied, nicely, that I knew that and that I had quite a few LDS friends. They asked, of course, if they could share their messing and I said, no, I’ve had enough conversation with my friends and know what they want to tell me. We chatted for a few more minutes, I asked them where they were from and little things like that and then they went on their way. Even though I’ve been the one in the past to slam a door on a rather pushy missionary and I don’t agree with some of the tenants of their faith I try to remember that these are essentially kids. Kids with a strong belief in their faith, which is rare in this world no matter what they believe. Kids that have to spend two years with little contact with their usually very tightly knit families. Just because of those two things I respect them (as long as they aren’t too pushy) and remember that they deserve respect back. I wished them a Merry Christmas as they left and I couldn’t help but feel like that just being pleasant to them, helping them a little, made their day just a little better.

Craft Hope

The most basic acts of charity I have been involved in this year have been related to the website CraftHope, a group of crafters making items for a number of charities over this year. I’ve been able to participate in two out of the five projects (well two out of four as the first project was over after I discovered the site). I made 3 dolls and knit a blanket and hat that were sent off to needy children all over the world. Instead of just dropping off some money, I chose to spend my time and energy to do something for someone else; someone I will never know.

The Library and ASPIRE

Getting involved in the personal side of charity I believe has been my main lesson this year and that’s why I chose a few months ago to get involved in two other little projects. As I’ve mentioned before I just started to volunteer some hours at my local children’s library. Ironically I started just in time to be part of their annual “Giving Tree” project tomorrow in which they’ve been collecting hats and mittens for local children. We give the items tomorrow at a special story time with the Spanish speaking Head Start program. I’ve also become involved in the ASPIRE program; a program to pair up high school juniors and seniors with adult mentors to help them navigate the college application program. The students involved range from anyone just needing help reading an essay to a kid who will be the first of his/her family to attend college to those needing support in their decision because no one at home understands their desire for more education. My first kid was a young girl wanting to go into a theatre field, I got to share my experiences and opinions on how to get the most out of her education and just finished helping her narrow down her list of schools. My next student will touch on the other side of my educational experience – the financial side. I will be helping a girl who falls right where I did, not rich enough to actually afford college but not poor enough to receive most assistance.


The Fire

My second favorite moment of Charity this year I’ve shared with you already. It happened when one of the apartments in my complex caught on fire and little old lady and her cat suddenly found themselves without possessions. I was home that day and overheard my landlady mention they were going to give the woman the apartment next to mine to live in until they could renovate the other. The apartment was completely empty. Another girl and I had already mentioned get together some food for the woman, but I knew in a moment that we could do a little better. Within an two hours after the fire had been contained, before the woman even got home we had filled the woman’s kitchen with basic non-perishables, pots and pans, utensils, salt and pepper shakers. I had a mountain of extra stuff at my place that was getting ready to go to the Goodwill and she received most of it. Extra towels, sheets and blankets, I loaned her my airmatress, a bag of cat food and my extra litter box, some travel sized toiletres I had never used, some disposable razors, a pair of nail clippers. Even the woman from the Red Cross was a little surprised. With the help of a few of my apartment mates had given this woman a little comfort in her time of need. She met us later that day with tears in her eyes, it was a wonderful day.

The Care Package

They most important part of my year I don’t believe I’ve shared on this space and I apologize if the story is a little vague. To make a long story short around the end of March I received an email from my best friend; she’d had a rough year financially. She had work, but not enough of it was paying well. So she took an opportunity to earn some money, she was getting married at the end of the year and needed to save. Sadly to say someone took advantage of my friend and she suddenly found herself scammed out of a lot of money.

Imagine your current bank account, no matter how much is in there and now imagine what it would be like to wake up tomorrow and have it all, every last penny gone and you’ll understand what happened.

She wasn’t sure how to make it to the end of the month when her next job, a better paying job would start. I called, I consoled and I prayed and then I decided to take some action. My friend was not a spendthrift, she did not have tons of credit card bills she couldn’t pay. This had happened because she was trying to be responsible and I couldn’t just stand to the side.

I had already told her that I was going to send her a care package, but I decide that a little more “care” was necessary. So I got online, Facebook to be exact, and started sending out mass emails to everyone we knew in common, then to everyone one her friends list that I kind of knew or that had post a message on her account. It was a simple idea, if X amount of people sent Y amount of money she could cover her basic needs until the end of month. They would send me a sealed card with their donation and I would send it to her in my care package. The response was amazing old friends, teachers from college sent me a donation. The kids at our old college, many of whom still knew her but never met me, emailed me that they had set out a donation jar that day.

About two weeks later I sent out the care package. It had some bridal magazines, a coloring book and crayons, some snacks, a gift card and a stack a letters. I did not know how much was in those cards. She received the package a few days later while I was at work. She sent me a text message “got your package. Thank you so much!” I wrote back “Have you open the cards yet?” She replied “No, going to open them after work” So I waited and waited and by intermission there was a voice mail on my phone, it was my friend in tears thanking me for what we had done.

I don’t think I ever asked just how much was in those cards, or if I did I’ve forgotten, but I do know that along with the help of her family and roommate and others we were able to get her through the month and get her account out of the red.

———————–

There you have it, my year of charity. There are something here that I will gladly talk about and somethings that from now on will just remain between myself and the persons it affected, but I hope that maybe one of these stories might inspire someone else.

In I Corinthians 13, a passage usually translated about Love, is also translated to be talking about Charity so that when you read that famous last verse it is telling you that perfect Charity is made of three things “Faith, Hope and Love.” Perfect Charity is made and gives these three things.

Now I’m not saying I’m a model for perfect charity, probably far from it, but this year I can look back and even though I don’t make much money and I don’t seem to have a lot of time, I can look back on my actions this year and say that I have, either individually or all together, tried to give Faith, Hope and Love. I have tried to give Charity.

Advertisements