A few weeks ago, I went to a seminar featuring several young people who were doing various projects in their communities. One young man, an 11-year old African American, especially moved my heart and soul. He was not the most eloquent of the group, a matter of fact he was so nervous in the beginning that one of the moderators in an effort to calm him asked a couple of direct questions. I know I do not have the ability to deliver the power of this child’s emotion but let me attempt to impart his simple message.
He uttered a few words listing a couple of the things he does in his community. And then he said, “I believe people want to help, but they don’t know where to start.” I wasn’t quite sure he was right about that, but I was sure he believed what he said...he is not yet so jaded as I about the condition of the human heart.
He went on to say, “They can do so many things; it doesn’t have to be huge.” How profound the words this young man spoke. He went on to say, “When someone asks you for a quarter or fifty cents, just give it to them…don’t worry about what they do with it—let God worry about that. Don’t say no. ” He said, “Some people don’t have food, or clothes. The holidays are coming up; just think about the food we will throw out in the days after Thanksgiving…there are people who don’t have any food. Invite someone to your home. Many of us have so many things that we think we need, but really we don’t need them…we want them. But there are so many people that really, really need clothes… need things.”
For a moment this baby seemed to be at a loss for words and then he said, “I can think of so many things because there is so much to be done.” He again paused for a moment, lightly sighed and then said “Just do something.”
This was an 11-year old boy. The room was quiet, tears in many eyes. I don’t know how many people took this young man’s message beyond that room, but I will do better this year. I will go a bit further, a bit deeper than my usual donations. We have had great tragedy in this country. We have a lot of people who are out of their homes and without their belongings. Some are jobless and some are hungry. So maybe this year we need to do a little more than the occasional dollar in the Salvation Army bucket or the normal end of year cleaning. Anyone who is in the middle class is feeling the pain a little more and worried about what January will bring. But chances are that those that are not working or affected by disasters like Sandy are feeling even more pain and experiencing even more worry.
I consider myself a pretty generous person when it comes to supporting charities in my community, but I can still do better. Over the last few days I have been working frantically to go through my closets and sort out the things that I really do not need…even some things that are hard to let go of. There are so many pieces of once worn clothing and boxed Christmas gifts that I never used. On Saturday, I plan to throw the largest yard sale that I have ever given. And, I won’t spend the money on a bigger Christmas. I will donate the money I make to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Anything left over I will donate to the Salvation Army, Goodwill and local charities as I see fit.
So what prompted this effort? Those simple words, “It doesn’t have to be huge.”