Yesterday I went online to the GiveLocalSJC.org site to give to several of the 67 local charities asking for money on May 9. It's a good way to donate because our money will be matched with funds from the Community Foundation. We've been getting emails and regular mail from many organizations promoting their causes. One particularly poignant video was from Claire Shely, a colleague of Jim's at Notre Dame, whose son is helped at Logan Center. Her tearful plea was very effective. Giving online was quick and easy and we know our money will be used well.
This week also gave me another opportunity to give in a way that wasn't as quick and easy. A former student Facebook messaged me with a desperate plea for funds to keep her family from being evicted. Did I know anyone who could help? This student has no family resources and never has. We have had a closer relationship than I have had with other students but she has never asked me for money. I was not happy to be asked but I thought that God has put this in my life and I can't ignore it. After several messages and a couple of calls later to the landlady and the Section 8 counselor involved, I sent a check to match the one she was sending to work down her debt at least some.
All week I have been hoping that there would be no more messages about further needs and there weren't. Yesterday I looked up her Facebook page (which I have usually hidden) and saw that she was preparing to go to church with her sons for the first time in two years. A resident in a nursing home where she works reminded her of her need to do so--and said she needed to find God before she could ever find a husband! Maybe my "gift" helped a little too.
What about the homeless folks we see on the streets asking for money? The young man with crutches at the corner of Ironwood and State Road 23 breaks my heart. But I never stop. I look away. Scott Hoezee posted on the 12Blog about not having his usual small bill to give to a homeless man under a bridge in Chicago as he and his wife were returning from a pretty pricey dinner. His wife gave the man a $10 bill. The man asked them to pray with him so they held hands and took turns praying under a dark bridge in Chicago. Maybe he still spent the money on drugs or booze, but maybe not.
In her sermon today, our pastor told us that when we gave our offerings, we were like the Acts 2 church sharing equally. We might not have children in church school, but we were giving for their supplies. We were keeping the lights on and the place heated for AA meetings held in our church. We were financing a translation of Scripture in the Central African Republic that we will never read.
We have had times in our life when we were pretty needy ourselves but no longer. This is a time when we could be generous with others. There are opportunities but we need to give with discretion and wisdom. It gives me something to ponder.