The little boy’s story on the morning news program captured my attention as I was scurrying around to get ready for the day. I reacted exactly like the astute news producers knew so many watching would — I was inspired.
The cute 11-year-old (with red hair and freckles, I might add) had anonymously donated all his savings — $10.03 — to a local police department on Sept. 13 of this year after learning about the courage of police and firefighters who helped during the 9/11 tragedy 12 years ago.
The sixth grader said he had been saving his money since April to do something to make a difference, according to http://www.today.com. “It might not be a really big difference but at least it’s something,” he told reporters. “If every person would do that, we would have such a great world. It would be awesome.”
A few news segments later, Tom Brokaw featured his wife Meredith’s recent project in Malawi. She taught a group of women who work in a kitchen that feeds 300 orphans three times a week how to can and preserve tomatoes and then to set up a business selling them.
The women previously struggled to feed the orphans and themselves when tomatoes weren’t in season, but no longer. Their business is now supplying 15 supermarkets and a few upscale lodges with canned tomatoes, and they are making a living for their families as well as making sure the orphans are fed.
“The kitchen project is representative of what works here,” Tom Brokaw reported. “Not handouts, but local solutions to local problems. The women have made the most important investment they could in their children and their future. And it all started with tomatoes from their backyards.”
Meredith Brokaw added, “What [we] are doing is such a small drop in the bucket. But the fact is, if you do nothing, there wouldn’t even be that drop in the bucket. So I’m not a believer in saying this is just such a small project it doesn’t matter. I think it matters.
“We’re all used to giving aid to people. Aid after aid and not seeing a lot of results,” she said. “So by changing aid to innovation where they take on the project and do it themselves, it’s just a world of difference.”
I don’t know the faith background of the Brokaws nor the sixth grader in Wisconsin, but I know they are grasping what we as followers of Jesus Christ have known and practiced for a long time. We contribute financial gifts above our tithes to assist ministries and missions to make a difference in the world. We give of ourselves to serve, teach and encourage others. We help develop resources to give others a chance.
Giving beyond self
And while our ultimate goal is to share the Light so that every person has the opportunity to understand and accept eternal life in heaven, we also get to make a difference for people while living their lives here on earth.
As I watched these two news stories, I asked myself what and to whom I was donating financially. I also asked myself what non-monetary resources, such as time and service, I was giving to others.
I admit I sometimes think my “small drop in the bucket” really can’t make a difference, and then I am reminded of what Jesus said in Luke 21:1–4:
“Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and He saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And He said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”
Maybe it’s money, maybe it’s time, maybe it’s knowledge — what, where and to whom are you giving beyond yourself?