I’ve got a little musical background for you to listen to as you read this post, so if you’re in your e-mail, click over to the site so you can listen and read.
During 2010, we as a family decided that we were going to try to increase our generosity by giving away as much as we spent on our consumable items like groceries, paper goods, household supplies, and medicines. We didn’t quite make our goal that first year, SO we decided to up the ante and give away as much as we SAVED in 2011. Since we typically SAVE more than we spend by shopping sales and couponing, I decided to keep track of all our spending and savings. We wanted to GIVE away at least as much as we consumed. I even invited you all to join us and try the same in your households. (Read about it here.)
At the end of the challenge, I invited you to guess how much our monthly average spending for consumables was. Since we had not yet given the final $150, I offered the closest guesser (without going over) a chance to chose the ministry that would receive that final save to give money.
I admit, even as I posted it on Facebook and the blog, I thought, Is this a bit of a stunt I’m pulling here? Am I just trying to drum up readers by offering to give away money arbitrarily to their favorite charity?
Well, maybe it was a stunt, but as is often the case with God, He honored my “stunt” and really blessed my socks off with what happened.
First of all, there weren’t that many guesses. Second, most of you were off by a long SHOT! My sister was the absolute closest, BUT her guess went over, so the closest guess without going over, which was posted on Facebook, was $497, by Missy Lawson Jones. Our average monthly spending was actually $534. (It went up a little with Eating Poorganically, but $534 was the year average.)
So I emailed Missy, who I don’t know personally at all, and I informed her that she won the prize. The charity that she chose was Canton Calvary Mission in Ohio, where she lives. Specifically, she chose the backpack program, which provides food for kids to eat over the weekend when they aren’t able to have lunch provided at school. As soon as I read about the mission, I was SO excited that God had connected me with Missy. This mission reminds me of a place my grandparents used to volunteer in inner-city Rochester, NY.
Not only did Missy agree to take the money to the mission on our behalf, she and her family decided to make a day of it and go volunteer at the mission. I’m going to let her tell the rest of the story with only one tiny interruption from me.
I wanted to write to you to share my experience with the mission. In the past, I served on the Board of the Canton Calvary Mission, have helped with several activities there, and served dinner on Saturday evening to groups that included homeless individuals, families with children, and children who come alone. I was on the board of the mission when the backpack food program was started and have collected food for the backpacks before.
When we got to the mission I saw some familiar faces and waited until it was time to get to work. I got to see Marie, the director and we caught up a little. I gave her the check, told her about how through the wonders of Facebook I “won a major award” by guessing how much it costs to eat/ live organically for a month. (HA HA! Major award. Tee-hee.)
It was a pretty quiet day at the mission except for a few kids hanging out in the hall. From what I understand, they had been hanging around all day, getting into some mischief at the mission, but considering their options, it was a good place for them to be.
Finally it was time to go work on “the back packs”. There were only 2 volunteers on that day because of the weather. They were expecting a smaller number of kids (35- 45 ) instead of the usual 100 -125. There was about 5 inches of drifting snow on the ground, and it was COLD. Over the next 2 hours, about 40 food bags were picked up. The kids walked in the freezing blowing snow to pick up a bag of food that most of us would not be excited about.
As I looked at the food in the bags I was overwhelmed by how blessed I am…that I can go to the store and fuss about whether I should spend $.75 more per pound to get organic grapes because I know that grapes are on the dirty dozen list….that I feel tremendous guilt when I let my kids eat Ramen Noodles because they love them, even though they are nutritionally void…that these kids have learned what it means to “play the game” to survive. Most of them appear to be under 10 years old. I literally would have thrown away most of the food these kids were happy to receive.
I took a picture of the contents of one of the bags and will e-mail it to you, but am not sure if I want it published. I don’t know if I can bear criticism about what these children were given from a bunch of very blessed, very fortunate people who think it is “awful” to feed children processed food.
(I assured Missy that anyone who wanted to be critical would not only have their comments deleted, but would be invited to walk to Canton on their moral high ground. ;))
The reality is that the mission is on a shoe string budget and relies on donations to to feed children anything. The bags for a whole weekend included 1 can of tomato soup, 1 pack of Ramen noodles, 4 individual packs of crackers, 2 frozen waffles, 1 granola bar, 1 bag of microwave popcorn, 1 slim jim, 1 bag of chips, 1 serving of cereal, 1 container of fruit or applesauce and 2 lollipops. Usually there is a local doctor who brings fresh fruit for the bags, but she was unable to do so due to the weather.
Other blessings of the day: the two volunteers were neighborhood folks who help with the program. It was a wonderful to see them love on these kids and also be tough with them when the kids were trying to get away with getting “more.” One boy showed up in the blustery cold with no hat or gloves. Marie, the director, is such a caring but tough woman and has an eye for real need. She put her arm around the boy and asked if he had gloves and a scarf. He said he didn’t, so she lead him upstairs to outfit him. Now the beauty of this is that Marie knows these children. She knew that not only did he not have a hat and gloves that day, but that he was not involved in any of the mission programs that would have provided hats and gloves. So, when the other children with him started complaining that they were not getting new hats and gloves, Marie knew them enough to tell them exactly when they had gotten their gloves and hat and encouraged them to take care of them. The mixture of true knowing, genuine love, kindness, and toughness, in addition to basic necessities like food, a safe place to hang out, tutoring, and warm winter clothes are making a huge impact for these kids and the Kingdom.
Thanks for blessing this ministry and in turn luring me and my family out of our comfort zone, reminding us of the true and genuine need that is all around us. How blessed we are to make choices in what we eat! I am blessed. Blessings to you in your Poorganic life and the lives you bless through it!
Thank YOU, Missy and family! And thanks to all of you who are eagerly joining in with the idea of the Save to Give challenge. There is SO much that I want to say to Missy and to all of my readers about what an AMAZING gift it is to know that doing something so TINY really can make an impact, however small. Of course, I did the easy part. I just wrote a check. (And scrimped a tiny bit the past two weeks to make it work financially.)
But Missy put her feet to the ground and actually went to the mission. Marie invests daily in the lives of these kids. Many churches in the Canton area donate to provide for these kids. It takes the whole body. (Watch the slideshow at the end of the post to see more of the amazing pictures of the work this mission does.)
Ultimately, it is GOD, who is really providing, and is inviting ALL of us to join in and be His hands and feet to the hungry, thirsty, lost and poor in our world. This year, God enabled my family to give on a teacher’s salary in such a way that we supported our church, 4 missionary families, our Compassion child, Distant Shores Media, Water for Peru, a retreat for missionary women in Peru, an adoption, OneVerse through Letter Verses, and thanks to Facebook and Missy, Calvary Canton Mission.
Am I bragging? YES! But not on us. We didn’t do squat. We are just a funnel for God’s money. He has honored us by giving us a chance to be involved with what He is doing in all these places. We are unspeakably thankful to Him for connecting us with His work.
Jeremiah 9:23-25 (NIV)
23 This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the LORD.
On Sunday at church, we sang the song that is playing now. It was stuck in my head as I read Missy’s e-mail. It really impacted me that this is a prayer. “Let our faith be not alone. Let our hearts be not of stone. May our eyes be quick to see . . . that you are here. You’ve come to rescue us.”
When Jesus ascended into heaven, He did not leave us here on Earth so that we could eat a certain kind of food. He didn’t leave us here so that we could coupon to Disney or upgrade to a more Pinteresting life. (Sorry. Did that hurt a little? It did me.) He left us here on Earth so we could continue to do what He did. He rescued people.
The Poorganic Life is about living simply, sharing and giving our physical and spiritual daily bread, without which no one can live.
Can you Save to Give this year? Will you?
John 14:12-14 (NIV)
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.