I read a great story today. It seems that a woman who works at Baylor University was watching news of the Bastrop wildfires and began worrying about the kids. Over 1,500 homes have burned leaving around 5,000 people without a place to live. So she started researching ways that the staff, faculty and students at Baylor could help. That's when she discovered that the Bastrop High School mascot was the Bears. Same as Baylor! So she organized the Bears2Bears drive which hopes to collect a teddy bear for every displaced kid in Bastrop. This kind of thing just makes my heart sing. When a whole bunch of people come together to offer what they can, big things can happen. I'll be watching to see how they come out, but I expect it will be successful. How could it fail with all those cuddly elements!
At my church, we're working with all the kids on a project we're calling Sock-It-To-Me. I rolled it out last week for the parents and they put it down on their to do list and I was sure we'd get some socks. Last night I rolled it out for my 8th grade confirmation class and was delighted to see how the challenge energized them. They were told that they could buy socks out of their allowance, beg socks from their friends, swap work for socks, or pretty much anything else they would like to do but that there were people without socks depending on them. "That's EASY!" one of them said. "Can we bring more than 12?" was another student's question. And, as I expected, "Who doesn't have SOCKS?"
No donor fatigue here. Generous hearts are dancing at the call. Maybe it's not as efficient to give socks or teddy bears as it is to give money but I think we miss something in the exchange when we just write a check. The kids most certainly do. Giving goods makes the recipient real. Knowing that some child's toys burned up in the fire is something a kid can imagine. Visualizing an empty sock drawer is easier than conceiving of a life without a sock drawer. This awareness sparks both generosity and gratitude in kids. It puts them on the path to being compassionate adults.
In the current economic climate we tend toward scarcity thinking, focusing on what we don't have or can't buy rather than on what we still have in abundance. We are in the midst of deep drought here in Central Texas, but our neighbors to the east are getting flooded. Maybe there IS enough, it's just not evenly distributed.
Whatever need cries out to you, find a way to respond. Take your kids along and let them help you help others. Tell them why something makes your heart hurt, or why you want to help in this particular situation. You will be helping people for generations to come. The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver. What isn't explicitly said is that God loves the person in need too - and you're the "bear-er" of that love. Go Bears!