Intentional Acts of Kindness
On the first Sunday in Advent, we gave out 100 one-hundred dollar bills in worship ($10,000) thanks to the generosity of a family in our church. Participants were asked to do two things:
1) BE INTENTIONAL as you use your heart and imagination to share the love of Christ with someone (or more than one person) who needs it; and
2) TELL US YOUR STORY about how you decided to reach out.
Stories about our Intentional Acts of Kindness Project have spread all over the US! In addition to being on the cover of the Capital Gazette on Christmas day (“above the fold,” as they say with a full color picture!), it also appeared on page two of the Baltimore Sun. It had been on the front page of the Metro section in the Washington Post (thanks to Julie Zauzmer!) the weekend before Christmas and because of that, the story got picked up by the Associated Press (AP) and appeared in papers all over the country (LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Charlotte Observer et al). Our own Leslie Dolsak did an article for Eye on Annapolis and it will be in the Severna Park Voice this week! I guess people love a feel-good story at Christmastime, huh? Glad to be part of God’s work Hope it inspires others to choose kind all over the USA!
Stories of Intentional Kindness
Week 4 Stories
My wife and I prayed for guidance as to who should be blessed with this gift. Then we saw a newscast about the Helping Up Mission and knew this was our sign to give to this cause. As a former Executive Director of the MD Child Support Enforcement Administration, I was reminded how impressed I was with this organization and how happy our organization was to help Helping Up Mission residents resolve their child support issues. What impressed me the most was the inclusion of a spiritual component to the recovery process. What better place to direct the SPUMC gift than to an organization that guides their residents through a recovery process that includes a spiritual connection? In addition, we have decided to match the $100 gift from the church with a $100 gift of our own. Please keep up the great work and we pray for your continued success.
We consider one of the side benefits of this project is causing people to take time to think of different ways they can volunteer and ways they can improve the community in which we live.
Note: The Helping Up Mission is a residence program in Baltimore that provides men fighting issues of addiction and homelessness, with food, shelter, and a reason to believe. The following statement is made on their volunteer page: “God’s healing flows through the hands of His servants, and we all have a role to play. Together, we can restore men fighting addiction and homelessness, so they can lead productive, responsible lives.” When I was involved with this organization, many of the staff and volunteers were past residents giving back to the program.
I was able to deliver this gift to a very deserving young woman who has recently become a single mother with 2 children and is struggling to make ends meet. She is working and looking for additional jobs. The look of wonder on her face and the tears in her eyes said it all. She was overwhelmed and oh, so grateful! Thank you for giving us this opportunity to be part of this ministry.
Thank you to the wonderful person who was so very generous by giving money to so many people to spread kindness, love, and joy to so many others in our world this Christmas. It took me a long time to decide how I would use my $100. It was not as easy as I thought it would be to choose just the right way to spend the money. I did as so many others had done. I went to the internet to research the best organizations who use their money in ways that do the most for the good of the people depending on them.
As a cancer survivor and a leader of a cancer support group, God led my heart to St. Jude’s Hospital and I gave the entire $100 in honor of two year old Gianna Dorn. Gianna was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer which was everywhere in her body except her bones and brain prior to her second birthday. Cancer is a very frightening disease for adults; but, it must be even worse for a child. There are strangers doIng painful things to their bodies, in scary hospitals that are noisy and smelly. Their families are crying and they do not always get to go home for Christmas. St Jude’s hospitals treat Children with cancer at no cost to their families. The children and their families are treated with kindness and love. Thank you to who ever allowed me to give the gift of love to this wonderful hospital in the hopes of helping other children.
As we drive to work every day through the downtown streets of Baltimore, we see countless numbers of homeless people who seem to sit and gazing into the sky with no hope of a “normal” life. These people sleep year around in tents that form a make-shift community under bridges. They appear to lack many hygiene and healthcare benefits. The struggles of these individuals sadden us and we wish for their recovery.
The Helping Up Mission has many success stories providing recovery and employment as well as positive religious direction and as taken from the website – “At Helping Up Mission, we believe God’s love can set men free — from drugs and alcohol, from poverty and homelessness, and from any other self-destructive behavior.” It makes us happy to know that this gift will go to such a good mission.
Week 3 Stories
Going to the Longest Night Vigil was a great experience, and it really opened my eyes to the situation of homeless people in Annapolis and our county. It’s made me determined to help people I see on the street when I can, and to not be afraid. I am very glad I was able to donate to the Arundel House of Hope, as it’s going to a cause I really believe in. It felt really good to make the leader of the Winter Relief program so happy.
(From one of our Youth)
I wasn’t in church on the day that the $100 bills were given away, but I have been challenged by the stories to be on the look-out for a fresh place to give, and expand my awareness of how to use the gifts God had given me. So, the other night, I was at a small gathering for a friend’s birthday, and met a new friend, Mary. Mary lives in Baltimore and is an active member of St. Leo’s in Little Italy. We were sharing stories about our churches, and she had some funny stories to tell about being one of the youngest members in her church (she is about 50!) I told her about the $100 challenge, and one of my favorite stories – the one about the pizza party at St. Vincent de Paul’s. She said she new that church well, as she is active in an organization called “Back on My Feet.” The group joins with homeless folks in Baltimore and they run together! They also hold fundraisers and offer all sorts of other support like job placement, sobriety support, etc.
So, I made a donation and I am going to join their run on the evening of 1/2/18 which heads out from a location in Federal Hill. (I am assured that the group has walkers as well as runners, so I hope that is true!!). So, thanks to the donor of the $10,000, to you and to SPUMC for continuing to help us stretch and grow!
A few days before the Sunday in church where the $100 bills were distributed, my mother had been telling me that she had become friendly with a young family that moved in across the street from her. They had 2 young daughters and a newborn son. The mother had mentioned that her baby son had hardly any clothes to wear since only some of the hand-me-downs from his sisters would work. My mother and I both planned to ask around for hand-me-down boys clothes. I decided to take one of the $100 bills and buy new clothes for the baby. The family was very appreciative!
I had some money left over and I used it to buy baby supplies for a baby item drive that a coworker’s high school daughter had organized as a service project.The baby items were donated to an organization that supports young mothers in need.
Having worked in the county school system as a teacher, I recognized the needs of families and their struggles especially during the Christmas season. I immediately thought about my school and knew who would benefit from the $100.00 gift. The counselor was contacted and because of my matching gift two families were chosen. Both families wanted to use the money for groceries. It was converted into Visa gift cards so the families could shop at the store of choice. I am confident this act of kindness enacted through our church has had a positive impact on their lives this Christmas.
My family volunteered last Saturday to help prepare and serve a holiday meal to the homeless (this is through the Happy Helpers organization..) One of the attendees is a single mom who has a special needs child – she’s been attending for years and now has a place to live, but putting food on the table and meeting the basic needs of her child is always challenging. This story touched our hearts and we gave the $100 to her. Needless to say, she was beyond happy and grateful. It was truly a blessing to be able to go “above and beyond” for this mother and her son, and I believe she believes that this gift came “from above.” Thank you and God bless the generous donor of this money.
The $100 was given to a family in Elkridge who lost everything in a house fire. The daughter is a student at Thomas Viaduct Middle School in Howard County where my wife works and heard about this family. She talked with the guidance counselor and arranged for the principal to give the money directly to the student’s father.
I successfully synched up with one of the teachers at SP Middle School who had a mother and son that are in need of assistance. I was able to take the $100 and with matching contributions from friends in SP and myself, grow it to about $350. I texted nine friends and explained what SPUMC was doing and all nine contributed, with one of them contributing $100 of their own. I was blown away. When Sherri called the woman to let her know, she started crying and was very thankful.
I also was informed by my teenage son that he too grabbed an envelope and had been trying to figure out what to do with it on his own. We decided to combine all funds and provide a Walmart gift card to this need family for about $450+. I think the Kindness Project was a great idea – maybe next time stipulate that you have to be 18+ years old or have parental permission to participate 🙂 In the end I’m happy that I was forced into it because it looks like a local needy mom and son will have a good Christmas. Thank you for the opportunity.
After taking an envelope, our family discussed ideas about how we use the money. We agreed helping with Heaven’s Kitchen would be a good family event so we decided our contribution would be homemade Christmas cookies. The idea was each person could take a bag for themselves and an extra to share.
We spent three nights last week making several cookie varieties, made several mistakes that we had to eat on the spot, and then wrapped in bags Friday night. 80 bags were delivered and handed out as part of a bag of personal items, donated clothes, children book gifts, all following a good hot meal. Adding to the whole mid day event was Chris and his holiday carolers and a very healthy support crew led by Chip. I enjoyed being there with most of our family, meeting locals that came to visit, other helpers, and I was thankful not to be fired from a volunteer job.
I took one of the envelopes and right away knew of a student I could help who is living in poverty. My fourth grade teammate and I took him shopping for a new outfit (sweatshirt, pants, socks, underwear, and shoes), toy to open on Christmas and a gift for him to give to each of his parents. He had such an amazing time and kept saying how it was the best day of his life. He came in the next day dressed in his new outfit with a big smile on his face.
After shopping we took him to grab some dinner and brought him home. His parents were very appreciative and kept thanking us for doing something so kind for their son. Thank you for allowing us to spread joy and giving in a personal way.
We decided to give the $100 (plus some more that my husband and I added) to support a refugee from Africa who is being assisted by Bowie United Methodist Church. I have been re-reading a book that I think is excellent, but difficult reading — Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder, and was reminded that “to save one soul, saves the world.” I’m hopeful that his rescue, a miracle as described by his pastor, will not only be a rescue of one person, one refugee, but perhaps others in his family. Our gift will support a cell phone so he can talk with his father and sister. I prayed about this, since I know others contributed to organizations, but I wanted to help — and the cell phone need had not been funded by Bowie. The pastor described this gift on her Facebook page as “a visit from an angel.” She knows the story of how we received the $100 and thought it was wonderful. So do we!
Here is what the pastor, Rev. Margaret Clemons, wrote to her church recently about this outreach:
As the year ends, we reflect on the miracles and blessings God has given us, even as we prepare our hearts for new possibilities of grace God has yet to give.
I would like to share a miracle which Bowie UMC was given. The miracle is a young man from Africa. He came to this country because that government wanted him dead. You see, he is a Christian, of the “wrong” tribe, and taught children how to think critically about the world while he taught them “reading, writing and arithmetic.” For being who God created him to be, he was considered a threat. His pastor helped smuggle him out of his country. It is only by God’s grace that this young man is alive. In his country, he had seen many of his friends and family, including his own mother, murdered. Coming to this country, knowing no one, he admits to times of feeling such despair that he prayed God would take him to his eternal home. By God’s grace, he found his way to Bowie UMC. We were able to get him a safe place to live because a good Christian couple opened their hearts and home.
This young man’s faith is enormous, in the midst of great sorrow and pain. He had to leave his father and younger sisters and recently found out that they, too, are now refugees, but now are safe. I hope you will have an opportunity to get to know this amazing young man. He has blessed us more than we have blessed him. Please keep him in prayer as he discerns his future, awaits asylum (yes, he is here legally), and grows in faith.
Through grace by faith, God led him to us. By grace through faith, God has opened our hearts a bit wider, given us eyes to see with new vision the world at large and allowed us to experience how faith can sustain us even when we think all is lost.
My granddaughter Mattie, 12 years old, has a huge passion for helping people with a need. With that in mind, I took one of the $100 bills so graciously offered by a member. As expected, the idea sparked great discussion at our dinner table. Mattie really wanted to see if we could help a family from her school. Sure enough, the principal told us there are several families who could use the gift for Christmas for their kids. We did not get the particulars, but she assured us that the family she had in mind would truly benefit from the gift. That was all we needed to know.
I am writing to share the good news for our Intentional Act of Kindness. Our family purchased (3) winter coats for children staying at Sarah’s House which is a temporary shelter for those who find themselves homeless. The generous gift by our church donor is helping hundreds of folks in our communities. It is so awesome and “wonder’ful!
Thank you for the opportunity to share all that is good.
When I read that the church was giving money for people to use as an Intentional Act of Kindness I misread the announcement and thought that it read International Act of Kindness. I got very excited because my niece recently got engaged and I knew that her fiancé is very involved with an organization in Guatemala. I decided right then that I would get that money for his cause. This meant I would take the time to learn about the organization, get to know more about my new nephew-to-be, and donate the money to the organization he is very passionate about.
Believe Guatemala is a non-profit, Christian organization, which seeks to empower and educate families in poverty stricken communities in Guatemala City. They believe God wants more for His people and that He calls us to be a part of His restoration process. They have a newly built Restoration Center that serves over 1,200 families in a community at the City Dump by providing educational programs, Bible studies, community outreach, and leadership training. Their Christ-centered programs are aimed at providing opportunities to break the cycle of poverty and reveal God’s love and purpose for all His children. I already knew that niece’s fiance periodically goes on mission trips to this Center and works with the children there.
After attending church the next week, I realized it was not limited to being international (LOL) and my heart was pulled to look for a local organization to support. I wrestled with this for several weeks. This morning when I woke up it was clear.
So many lives are affected by addiction and I have a particularly close friend who has lived in many group homes in the 4 years that I have known him. Currently he is at Helping Up Mission in Baltimore City. Helping Up Mission provides men fighting addiction and homelessness with comprehensive recovery services, including: Meals, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs,Spiritual development, classes, and counseling that change hearts, integrated healthcare, education, workforce training, and life skills.
This is his second time at this particular mission. They offer many services and I pray that this time his heart will be permanently changed to give him the strength to stay clean for himself, his daughter and his whole family. In the last five months I have seen him stay clean, quit smoking, and start exercising. He appears to have a new attitude this time and I pray this is so.
So what did I do? I multiplied the gift. I have agreed to support a child named Rosa in Guatemala on a monthly schedule and have also begun to donate monthly to Helping Up Mission in Baltimore as well. I pray that God will bless these donations to do his work.
The $100 provided to me was given to a father of 8, ages 1-18, who lost his wife around 2 months ago. Mom found out about her cancer when she was being tested for pregnancy at the beginning of the 1-yr old’s gestation. As devout Christians, they chose not to aggressively treat the cancer due to the probable effect on the new fetus. The baby was born healthy, but Mom succumbed to the cancer. The local business where she had been working has rallied around the family and have provided presents for all 8 of the children. I sent the $100 to the father to be used for utility or any other bills that might be due. Hope in eternal life is wonderful, but what a joy to give someone hope for their day to day life here!
We gave our $100 to Benevolent Baskets, an organization near and dear to my wife’s heart. The money was going to be used to provide basic needs to formerly homeless women. Before the money could be distributed the Founders of Benevolent Baskets had a meeting with the Salvation Army to discuss Benevolent Baskets partnering with Salvation Army. The people of Salvation Army were late because of a fire at their Havre De Grace facility. The fire had either destroyed or severely damaged the toys they had been collecting for Christmas. They received Severna Park United Metholdist Church’s $100 donation and they were thrilled. They went on to explain that the doctrine of the Salvation Army is based on the teachings of John Wesley.
I hesitated to take the challenge of collecting the $100 bill to help someone or some project. To me this task was daunting. There’s a parable in the Bible where the master gave his 3 servants different amounts of talents (money) to invest his money while he was gone. The first 2 servants did a great job of making a profit for him while the 3rd one just buried his money and did nothing with it. I didn’t want to do this challenge thinking I would be like the 3rd servant and not find a way to help someone. It was like a test for me – could I do this with God’s guidance?
But with an act of courage, after the service, I slipped up to the altar and took an envelope, praying that God would show me the way. After praying on this for over a week, the same name kept coming to me, a friend who is going through a horrific divorce with 2 children. Her husband has been abusive, but she continues to smile, never bad mouths the man, continues to work to feed her children, and keep the family together in a loving relationship. I know she is having trouble with bills as she is paying for everything right now, but she keeps forging ahead. She does have a strong faith and that is helping her to keep a smiling face and strong belief that things might just work out in her favor. I know she wouldn’t take this $100 as an act of charity, so I slipped it into a Christmas envelope and hid it in her Christmas tree. I don’t know if she has found it yet, and I don’t know what she will do with it. But whatever she chooses, I know it will light up her spirits, lighten her load, help her children, and give her the hope she needs during this season of abandonment and debt.
There was a lady at work that I know who is very loving and kind but really does not make very much money. I saw her crying at her desk one evening as I was about to leave and I walked over to her. She was having extreme pain in her right side that she had for three days but didn’t have any money to go to the emergency room. I got a wheelchair and took her over to the hospital where she was treated for a gallbladder attack. A week later she came back and I bought the “Jesus always” devotional book for her, put the money in a card to tell her that she was loved and put the card in the book.
I kept praying about this for two weeks and asking the Holy Spirit if there was someone else we should consider but I could never get her out of my mind. I haven’t seen her since she opened her surprise so I’ll have to give you a little update later.
I think it was a beautiful idea and I’m glad the whole congregation was included!
Week 2 Stories
Ever have one of those times when God taps you on the shoulder to do something for His kids and you kind of shrug it off because it isn’t the best timing and then regret it later? Well that is exactly what happened to me a few weeks ago. My friend Joe and I were having a look at the historic Shot Tower in Baltimore on a Sunday afternoon with plans for dinner after when I noticed that there was a sizable group of homeless folks hanging out in front of St. Vincent De Paul Church. God seemed to say why not get some pizzas for everyone and sit out on the church steps and have a meal with these folks. The thought pulled me hard but not enough to act immediately. When Joe suggested a place for dinner, I didn’t share my God moment with him and we just went on our way a few blocks over to get some good food on the upscale part of Baltimore’s East Side. The opportunity to share Gods love was lost and I knew it immediately — that thought returned a couple times later that evening but was soon eclipsed by the fast pace of life.
So there I am sitting at church a week later when you make the announcement that we could pick up a crisp $100 bill with the only stipulation that we do some good with it — God was quick to remind me of my missed opportunity and I immediately started making excuses in my mind about not having the time to spend an afternoon in Baltimore when my feet started moving me towards the altar to pick up the envelope. I surrendered to God’s nudge, took the $100 and called my friend Joe who isn’t a member of our church to tell him about the missed opportunity, generous donation and asked if he wanted to join me on our mission to throw a pizza party for the homeless — he enthusiastically agreed.
We planned the party for this past Sunday afternoon and with some matching donations came up with two cases of water, ten Dominoes pizza’s of differing varieties, 8 boxes of chicken poppers and a case of Orange Crush at Joe’s suggestion. We ordered the pizzas online and waited for the delivery out in front of the church and began to chat with one of the local residents named Mark. Mark was a Ravens’ fan who was quick to give us the scoop on some of the residents and their circumstances. When we told one of the residents that we had ordered Dominoes pizza he said jokingly that it had been so long since Dominoes had delivered anything to that neighborhood that he thought they went out of business. I started to worry that he may be right since they were already 30 minutes late ;-).
We got out the water and Orange Crush and immediately realized that the soda was much preferred over water and the crowd quickly took charge of distribution in a surprisingly fair way making sure everyone got a can. Not long after, the pizza showed up and again the residents helped distribute the pizza to everyone and Joe and I grabbed a slice and began to break bread with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I told one resident about the generous donation to SPUMC that made this possible and he was touched and very grateful since it turns out that they never get pizza and most folks that bring them food and supplies just drop things off and rarely stick around to share a meal.
Joe and I hung out until most of the pizza was gone. There was lots of heart-felt thanks and a spontaneous hug by a woman who appreciated us hanging out with them or maybe she also really loves pizza ;-). The residents then cleaned up the trash as best they could and thanked us again. As Joe and I drove out of Baltimore that night with a bit of a chill from the cold night there was the warmth, too, that seems hard to describe — perhaps it is the gentle pat on the heart from our Father for being about His business and spending time with His other kids. I knew then as I know now that I gained more then we gave that night. $100 turned into $200 and then transformed into ripples of Gods love in this sometimes troubled world. Please pass on our thanks and appreciation to the donors whose faith made this amazing experience possible!
There was a student in my class (“A”) who was documented as being homeless. His mom has 3 school aged children and 2 older children (18 +). Mom was living in Baltimore city with the 3 younger children and her mother, who was helping to pay for the apartment. Her mother, however, has a drug addiction and started using again recently, causing her to lose her job. Without her income to help pay the bills, the family was evicted. So, A’s mom was taken in by her aunt in Severna Park, temporarily. She was receiving assistance from SPAN and was starting a job training program. One of the complications, according to the People Personnel Worker was that her 2 older children were constantly taking her resources and making it difficult for her to “get ahead.”
Her 4 year old, “A” qualified for immediate admittance to our Pre-K program. We were very fortunate to have “A” in our program for the short time that he was with us. He was such an eager learner, so incredibly happy to come to school and see us every day, and a great example for our other students. It was truly a blessing to be around him!
My co-worker and I wanted so badly to help this family! It was perfect timing when you told us about the family that donated the $100 bills! I thought the gift of letting them shop for food (any food they wanted!) would be a perfect way to use the $100.
Well, “A” didn’t come to school last Monday and on Tuesday his mom came in to withdraw him, saying they were going to Sarah’s House, a shelter for women & children. I have been working with the PPW to find out how to go about getting a donation to a specific person at Sarah’s House. I will be dropping off a gift card to Walmart (since they are supplied meals at Sarah’s House) so that mom can buy some things that they need or want and also taking some fun snacks and things for the children. “A”’s mom seems to be trying very hard to make a good life for her kids. Please keep this little family in your prayers!
p.s. The PPW extends her thanks to you, too!
For my intentional act of kindness, I choose to honor animal shelters. We have a shelter dog and cat that have brought us so much joy over the years. I had been reflecting on these two animals so I knew where my $100.00 was needed. At my local YMCA they have an animal tree with pictures of cats, dogs, currently being housed at the SPCA in Annapolis. The animals are looking for donations to feed them and provide bedding and treats. All the food I purchased with my $100.00 plus our family monetary donation are now under the animal tree. In our family, the animals are just like our children. What a great experience this act of kindness has been. The cashier person at PetSmart was so touched by this story of the couple’s generosity, she cried. I invited her to join us one Sunday morning to participate in a worship service. I know all the dogs and cats will be eating well, soon! p.s. You should have seen our cart from PetSmart — it’s amazing what how much good $275 can do!
My youngest daughter’s preschool started a drive to collect gently used purses to hand out to homeless women in Baltimore. They are also collecting items that these ladies can use to fill the purses with. I collected my purses and bought some supplies to donate. When I spoke with the director last week, she said that she had around 100 purses and not nearly enough supplies. This kind woman is taking her time each weekend to drive around Baltimore and personally hand the purses out!
I knew right away that I would use this money to buy 100 items to donate. Things like soap, shampoo, maxi pads, antibacterial cloths, etc. I can’t even imagine what these people without homes go through, especially on a blistering cold day like today. I feel blessed to be able to contribute and hopefully make a small difference in their lives.
I’ve been debating how to donate the money I got last week at the 8am service, and have spent more time than I’d like to admit poring over nonprofit ratings, trying to find something especially meaningful. This evening I came across a “Go Fund Me” posting on Facebook, soliciting support for a family from Myersville, MD who lost everything, including their pets, in a house fire yesterday. It moved me, and I matched the funds and donated $200.00 to help them, in the name of Severna Park United Methodist Church.
This has been an eye-opening and soul-searching experience for me. There is such need in the world, and while my husband and I do donate to many organizations and causes, I don’t remember the last time I gave it so much thought. Thank you for injecting something so real and meaningful into this Advent season. The ripple effect will certainly be far-reaching and impactful, not only to the recipients of the donations, but also in the hearts to all who were privileged to take part.
After praying about this for all of last week, I felt two strong urges – one was to give this money to help a child in need to have a merrier Christmas, and the other was this sense that sharing the love of Christ didn’t only have to be with someone who had a financial need; that “need” comes in many different forms. Some people may need to know that they are valued, respected, that they make a difference, or even just to be “seen.”
As a teenager, I once worked as a waitress and found it one of the toughest jobs I ever had. So I decided I wanted to give this money, along with a note, to a hardworking waitress. We often go to breakfast after church, and so today I decided that whoever our waitress/waiter was would get the envelope I had prepared. We knew a lot of the servers at the two places we most often go, and I just trusted that God would put us at the right table, the one with the person He wanted me to give my envelope to. I had placed the cash inside a Christmas card with a note that I had been asked to pass this money on as a blessing for someone, and that I had chosen her. I also said that I hoped that beyond the money, that she would be blessed by feeling the love of Christ though this gift all throughout this holiday season, and I thanked her for doing her job so well.
I put it with the paid bill as we left the restaurant so I have no idea how it was received, but I hope that this young lady was both surprised and happy. I wrote her name on the envelope and I do hope she feels noticed, valued and at least a little special. I hope it made the rest of her shift a little easier.
The funny thing though is that I spent most of the week searching for a new opportunity beyond the Angel Tree at church to purchase Christmas gifts for a child – I really wanted to find a child at a less fortunate area school that had expressed a need. Nothing specific presented itself and then I had the waitress idea, so I was all set to go with that. Then this morning, as I was checking Facebook before leaving for church, I found that opportunity I was looking for. A woman in our neighborhood had posted that there were just a few open slots for kids’ wish list items for a local school that she was organizing donations for. I looked at those and they were all less “exciting” things for older kids, things like clothes and shoes. All the fun toys for the young kids had been assigned. Well, I knew that these older kids needed things too, and I could help, so I signed up for a bunch of items on that list to provide.
There are so many aspects of this effort that I am in awe of: of course the generous donation of the $10,000 to fund this is absolutely amazing, and I just wish I had thought of it!! That was why it was such an easy decision to match the original $100 with this money of our own. But what was the coolest to me was how I was on “high alert” all week, looking for people or opportunities to help. That was a great lesson, I think we should always be in that mode, always on the lookout for who God may place in our path, and for things He calls us to do. I am going to strive to be in that spirit more and more, to have eyes to see people’s needs more routinely, and to help in any way I can.
And I am also going to look beyond the obvious kinds of need, because I do think I have a tendency to label need too neatly, and I think it’s bigger than that. I am praying that my vision is bigger and broader, and I can see people more as Jesus sees them.
I am so grateful to belong to this church, to be part of a community that is so loving and giving. All of you make me a better person. Merry Christmas!!
I split the $100 into five $20 bills and have given away $80 so far. First, I decided to help a severely handicapped man who was collecting money for a family of 5 in Grand Central Station. I also reached out to 2 men who were asking for money on the street and did not appear to be addicts of any type (unlike some others we saw) – one said he would use the $20 for shelter. I also gave $20 to our bus driver who said he had 2 daughters getting married, and was soon to be laid off at end of December from the bus company because they were downsizing. I still have $20 to give to someone and I’m keeping my eyes and heart open but thought I’d update you…
We used the $100 for a 7 year old boy who is struggling with inoperable optic nerve brain tumors. He lives with his single mom who asked for help this holiday season with getting a few gifts for her son. With winter fast approaching, Kevin’s wardrobe is limited since his mom has no income and they concentrate on making ends meet with purchasing supplements for Kevin. Since chemotherapy is not an option for Kevin, he uses dietary and other non-conventional holistic healing methods to prevent the tumor from growing. We purchased a pair of snow pants, gloves, and hat for him to be able to enjoy playing in the snow. He’ll also find a few other gifts under his Christmas tree this year, with the hopes of bringing him some holiday cheer. Our young daughters really enjoyed helping this young boy by using the $100 towards a good cause. Seeing them give to others is rewarding for all. We are blessed to have been able to help with the “Intentional Acts of Kindness” task and so thankful for the generous gift of love that the church donor offered to all.
My wife, daughter, and I just started coming to Severna Park Methodist Church about 2 months ago. My wife and I always said we wanted to get back into the church (we haven’t been in a long time). The handful of times we came I honestly told my wife like I felt like the church spoke too much about money. It’s kind of funny how things work out because of this Intentional Acts of Kindness came about and the Church was giving us money to give to a noble cause! I thought and prayed about how I thought this money would be best spent. My aunt put a post on Facebook about how money you donate to certain causes actually goes directly to the cause. St. Jude’s Children Hospital was one of the programs where 100% of the money goes to children with cancer and helping pay there medical expenses. The next day I received a letter in the mail asking me to donate to St.Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I just put the donation in the mailbox tonight and feel this may help a child in need. Thank you for putting this Intentional Acts of Kindness Project together, we will see you Sunday!
I wanted to share with you on how we shared the love of Christ in the “Intentional Acts of Kindness Project.” It has been almost 2 weeks since we took this challenge that was offered to us at church. I have been praying God would direct me in who to share this gift with. At this time of year their are so many in need. I just felt it was meant for one individual but, I did not know who it was. Yesterday, I was speaking to a very dear friend of mine and he shared with me the difficultly one of his relatives was going through. It is a heart breaking story, the minute he finished the story, I know this is where God wanted me to help. My husband and I are matching the $100.00 gift. Here is a bit of the story:
This lovely lady has had a very tough life, she and her brother were left as toddlers on their grandmother’s front porch in rural Kentucky with just a bag of a few of their belongings. They were raised by the grandmother. Later in life she married but, it was not a happy marriage and she was left alone again. They did have a son together but, he, too, was a major disappointment later in life, when he began to steal whatever he could from his mother. She did find a job that gave her a great deal of satisfaction and helped her pay the bills, She worked as a nursing assistant and would sit with dying people in their home or nursing homes. Due to some health issues and back problems, she had to stop working. Two weeks ago she developed pneumonia and went to the ER for help. They admitted her for observation and while she was there she had a major heart attack. Test revealed she had 90% blockage and required stints. During the procedure, they nicked the aorta and she had a major bleed that required another procedure.
She is still in the hospital and hopes to be released later this week. Her unemployment check is her only source of income and it is less then $900.00 a month. The Doctors have advised her to apply for Disability and not return to work, but this will take a while. She lives alone in a small, run-down apartment in Cincinnati. She only has one relative that lives close by. She is feeling very lonely and has many concerns on how she will survive. My dear friends are leaving on Thursday to drive to Cincinnati to be with her when she is discharged and try to help get her back to health. They will be taking this gift of love to her. Please keep her in your prayers and share with whoever you can. I believe God will give her strength and help her through this very difficult time.
I was driving along East-West, past Orphan Grain Train (ogt.org) as I’ve done countless times before. I stopped in to see what it was about, where I met Ron Phipps who gave me a tour. It was a busy day – volunteers sorting and packing items in boxes donated by McDonalds. They collect and ship supplies – clothing, tools, school materials, bikes, sewing machines, etc – to locations around the world, requested by pastors at those locations. Places such as India, China, and wherever disaster strikes in the US. I gave them my $100 and offered to help load the next container shipment on Jan 5 (10am) going to the Far East by ship. Many years ago, OGT started shipping grain from Nebraska overseas for orphan kids. Now they collect and ship a variety of things from many locations throughout the US.
I decided to match the gift and pay it forward. I reviewed the Doctors Without Borders website and learned about the good work they are doing to save lives all over the world. I was moved by the many poor and suffering people (especially kids) you never see on the evening news, that really need help. $100 over there goes a long way to alleviate disease and malnutrition. Giving away $100 bills is not as easy as it sounds. But I know others will benefit who really need help. I am glad to participate.
I gave the $100 bill to an employee at the company I work for. This gentleman married later in life (early 40’s), and for several years he and his wife struggled with infertility. Giving up hope, they adopted a daughter from Mexico. Lo and behold a few years later, they did have a child of their own, and now have a total of four young daughters. This co-worker (now in his early 60’s) is one of the hardest workers in the company and often spends his weekends doing side jobs. He and his family recently moved into their own home, and though he take pride in finally owning a house, the financial responsibility has been a bit draining. I know the monetary gift will bless them during this Christmas season. He was so appreciative and grateful for the gift.
I am thankful to be part of a church that is so mission oriented and generous.
I shared my hundred dollars with a friend who is facing many challenges: she has had open heart surgery, is dealing with a severely shattered foot and recently her grown son lost his job, separated from his wife and moved back in with her. She is also helping to raise her grandchild. She is one of those people who is always helping others whether it is driving them to a doctor’s appointment or just showing up as a friend. What a wonderful and kind project this is. Prayers to the givers of this act of kindness that made this possible.
This weekend as we traveled to Pittsburgh for a family event, we stopped at Bob Evans to have breakfast and met Linda, our server. When we asked her, she told us that she was almost ready for Christmas. Linda shared with us that her family, including15 grandchildren would be visiting with her for Christmas and she told her children they would not be getting much for Christmas. After our meal, I approached Linda and told her that we had a tradition of giving during the holiday season and that we wanted to help make her holiday a little brighter. Linda gave me a tearful, big hug when I handed her the $100 bill and said it would make a big difference. My husband and I have decided that we are going to give $50 each to our young adult children (5 young adults, ages 26-18) with the same instructions.
My family and I took two of the $100 envelopes. Our daughters were in worship the Sunday the Intentional Acts of Kindness mission was announced and they were SO excited to participate! When we got home from worship, we sat around our dining room table and talked about how we could be intentional with this great gift of love and generosity. We listed about 5 or 6 things, then picked two: First, we decided to go to a local grocery store, go into one of the checkout lines, and offer to pay for groceries for someone who really needed it. We prayed about this choice and sat with it for awhile. Then, the Holy Spirit nudged my husband one morning when he was on vacation from work. He and I heard sanitation workers/recycling crew on our street picking up leaves. He went to the window and watched them hard at work picking up hundreds of bags of leaves. He said to me, “They work really hard.” He sat down and thought for a minute. Then, he hopped up and said to me, “Oh! The $100!” He was so excited he flew out of the house and followed them down the street to catch them. He said when he got there, he called one of the workers over, explained what our church was doing, and gave him the $100. My husband said the worker laughed with both shock and delight, kept saying thank you and ran back to the truck to finish his work.
Our second way to spend $100 actually is in southern New Jersey. My husband has gotten to know a family there, due to his work, really well. The mother is a single mother doing her best to make ends meet for her two children. She shared with my husband that she doesn’t really know what she believes and grew up not celebrating anything – birthdays, Christmas, Easter, other holidays, or weddings. As a result, her son has missed out on the joy and wonder of Christmas and the true meaning it holds. The woman’s son told my husband, “I guess I won’t get anything for Christmas because we don’t celebrate it.” As a family, we thought that the gift God gave us (through someone else’s generosity) would be a great way to show the woman’s son the love of Jesus, God’s extravagant grace, and the true meaning of Christmas. So, my husband is taking the $100 to purchase some much needed items (and fun things too!) for the woman’s son.
Our church’s Intentional Acts of Kindness mission has also led to everyone in our family intentionally looking for kind ways to act each day to demonstrate God’s great grace and love. Recently, I had a dentist appointment. The dental hygienist and I were talking and she shared that her mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She shared her sadness, concern, and fear that her mother may not be well enough to attend her wedding next month. The hygienist also shared concern about her spiritual journey and members of her family who do not see the need in knowing God or attending worship. I talked with her and shared some of my own faith journey, and reassured her God holds it all and works everything for our good – no matter what it may look like. After a few minutes of silence, she said, “Thank you. Thank you for talking with me. It made me feel better.” I was thankful to God that God used my witness and voice, in that moment, to bring some comfort and peace to her which is what the Advent and Christmas season is about. When we surrender to be Jesus in the flesh to others, we become God’s peace and God’s good will for all.
For some time I have wanted to try to make fidget mats. I am using the $100 to purchase materials and notions to make several sample fidget mats, which I will then give to the church. I will include written directions and some kits with materials and notions for other sewers in our church to use. The fidget mats can be for adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s or for toddlers. I will probably start with adult mats. The Dorcas and Heartfriends UMW Circles are both crafty and may want to take over this project. Moms Connect may also have some interested sewers. I can think of senior members of our church who may enjoy these and our church has no dearth of toddlers!
So far I have purchased zippers and grommets ($21), but need to get broadcloth or duck cloth (cotton cloth that has been washed and shrunk for strength) as well as Ultra Firm Pellon for filler. I will also use my own ribbon, Velcro, and fabrics from my quilting stash. [If Chris Dillard would stop using so much of my time, I could really get going on these! : ) Gotta love my music director!] Thanks to the donors for this awesome opportunity!
I didn’t get one of the hundred dollar bills from church last week because they were all gone by the time I asked for one. But I decided to be part of the Intentional Acts of Kindness Project anyway and simply pay attention to the people and situations I encountered. On my way into the drug store yesterday, there was a young man begging for money to get something to eat. I stopped to talk with him and ask what his story was. He told me that his mother had kicked him out of the house and that his girlfriend, at home with their baby, had told him that she needed him to do something to help support their child or get out, too. I knew I had three options. I could simply tell him I would pray for him or I could give him the $10 bill in my pocket. OR I could give him the $100 bill that I happened to have in my wallet (a pretty rare thing, but I had just been to the bank two days before). I felt the nudge to be extravagant with grace and so chose option 3. When I gave it to him along with a blessing and short explanation, he was both stunned and speechless at first. Then he hugged me and thanked me several times before practically skipping into the drugstore to get something for the baby. I’m convinced that were it not for our Intentional Acts of Kindness Project, Options 1 or 2 more likely would have won out. I’m glad they didn’t.
Week 1 Stories
I have been eager to report how the $100 was used to bless a good friend of my mother’s who has been very sick since January. She was only recently diagnosed with a rare form of peripheral T-cell lymphoma and began chemotherapy on Monday. Her support system consists of friends, colleagues (she is a kindergarten teacher), and her son. Unfortunately she is no longer able to drive, and has requested long term disability, being unable to return to work this school year. Needless to say, this woman has endured many trials this year, thus my eagerness to bless her with the generous gift you spoke of on Sunday.
I called my mom as soon as church was finished; she was eager to meet at Target that afternoon to put together a care package for her. We used the money to buy a new set of sheets, sweat pants, warm socks, tea, ginger ale, and soup. She has been mentioning needing new sheets because her night sweats are so severe that she is having to wash them daily. Her legs have swollen because of the enlarged lymph nodes, thus the need for some comfortable pants to wear.
She doesn’t know Jesus. I believe God spoke into my heart when you presented this project to the church as an opportunity to tangibly reach her. You see, if I had used my own money to get these for her, she wouldn’t have accepted any of it…she would have insisted on paying me. She would only accept this because it was given as an act of kindness from someone anonymous. When my mom took all this to her, she said that a church paid for the supplies as an act of kindness. She was humbled; she made sure to let me know that she intends to pass along the kindness once she’s feeling better.
People come to experience the love of Jesus in many ways. I have found kindness to be a bridge between talking about who Jesus is and actually seeing or feeling Jesus. This gift gave us the opportunity to show a friend who has suffered greatly, that the love of Christ exists for her, and that He cares enough to provide her with new sheets!
I was humbled by the notion of this project when you spoke of it on Sunday. I’m so thankful I listened and acted on being a vessel of God’s love. What a wonderful Christmas gift this was. Thank you.
As a professional fundraiser, I was blown away by the amazing $10,000 donation providing others with an opportunity to “give.” Working at Johns Hopkins, each and every day I see the struggle on the faces of parents that are dealing with sick children and family members. During the holidays, the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center (JHCC) hosts a Snowflake Station where individuals can donate gifts so that parents can “shop” within the hospital walls and not have to be too far from their children’s bedside. As a working mom, I know how tough it can be to find time to shop for all the holiday goodies. The thought of having to take care of a child who is sick in the hospital, manage a job, a household AND shop for the holidays, just makes it that much more important to support the JHCC Snowflake Station.
As a result of the generous support of one of our SPUMC members, my daughters and I were able to spend the morning yesterday buying an array of toys to donate to the JHCC Snowflake Station. The look on the face of the staff when I dropped off the gifts this morning was priceless. As was the excitement my girls expressed when purchasing toys for these other children. As a family and Johns Hopkins employee, I am SO thankful for the generous $100 Be Intentional Gift.
When you explained about the $100 bill I didn’t feel moved to take one. I was incredibly moved by the concept and the family that made it possible, though! I whispered to my husband that I wasn’t going to take one, but we could take a name from the Angel Tree instead. His reply was, “Are you kidding me? You are always talking about people you know that have a need for the $ or the light of Christ in their life.”
So, I took one and prayed about who He would like me to share it with.
The Lord put on my heart a co-worker of mine who has been blindsided by her husband’s demand for a divorce after almost 30 years of marriage and the revelation that they are in deep deep debt. This woman is a woman of deep faith.
I chose yesterday to give it to her with a note that explained the inspiration for the outreach. I also said that I felt the Lord wanting me to use it as a sign that He is hearing her prayers and the prayers of others on her behalf.
She came to me this morning and shared with me that before she opened the card yesterday she had received an email from her attorney that things were worse than they had expected. She was so upset she had to leave school. She sat in the parking lot of the Safeway and cried and cried, feeling alone, desperate, confused, and scared. She remembered the envelope and opened it and read my message. She said a peace came over her. She saw the $100 bill (although much needed which I was unaware of her financial situation) was more a physical sign of God’s everlasting love and protection for her and her family.
I was excited about this project when you first announced it and thought it was a genius idea. I started thinking right away how I would use it.
Turns out choosing was a lot harder than I thought. I can give my own money away easily but I felt a lot of responsibility giving away someone else’s. I toyed with so many different ideas then found myself obsessed with looking for someone deserving in my everyday errands. Ha ha I was distracted driving thinking should I pay someone’s bill? Should I buy something and give it away? I decided in a year where there has been so much division it seemed appropriate to donate to a person or group promoting community and doing it with love. Feeling focused on that I’m happy to report many people are doing wonderful meaningful work. Choosing was still difficult.
In the end I chose to donate to the Mufindi Orphans project in Tanzania. It was recommended as needy and deserving by my niece who had worked for the Peace Corp and started in Tanzania. She knows the people involved from that experience. She was recently encouraging people to donate on social media so I asked a little more about the project. She told me they have done and continue to do amazing things.
I also decided to match it and contributed the same amount to a local organization called Creating Communities started by Rob Levit. I have volunteered at his Arts Mentorship Academy held at Maryland Hall for several summers until my own work schedule conflicted. I can say firsthand that money donated to them is not wasted. Rob Levit’s program is unique and just what those kids who attend need. It is a very deserving group.
Please thank the donors for the opportunity to be involved in this Kindness Project. I can’t wait to hear what others have done. I’m sure there will be many creative ideas.
I was so inspired by the $100.00 bill program that I decided the first thing to do was to equal the $100.00 and give $200.00. This is such a SMALL thing to do, BUT, if all of us did the same the same, we’ve doubled our giving. I love this church. I am going to meet my recipient tomorrow morning, a recently blind fellow brother in Christ, my age, that needs our help.
I asked our seven year old daughter if she wanted to get an envelope and participate in Intentional Acts of Kindness. She said yes. She was shocked that there was really a $100.00 bill in the envelope.
We thought for a while to come up with a tangible way for our 7 year old to really experience the giving. We decided to pack “gift” bags for the homeless in Baltimore City. She packed 2 pairs of heavy socks, 7 sets of hand warmers, and McDonald’s gift cards into the bags. We were heading to Baltimore on Thursday evening so we stocked up and away we went. She was so excited when a man approached our car seeking change. She rolled down the window and called him over. “Here you go,” she said. He said, “Thank you, God bless you and have a good night.” She said, “You too!” As we pulled away she said to us, “This was the best night ever.” We are looking forward to giving out the rest of the bags.
This very generous gift was inspiring and I truly appreciate to opportunity for the teaching moments it has provided us.
I purchased a Walmart gift card and I liked the idea so much that I purchased a second $100 gift card. I contacted the principal at Park Elementary School in Brooklyn Park. I shared our Intentional Acts of Kindness campaign with her. I asked her to use the gift cards to purchase gifts or food for several families or give the gift cards to two families. My husband and I attended that school and we know there is such great need in that community. We loved growing up there. The principal Sandy Blondell was so thrilled and grateful.She shared her concern about the unemployment, addiction, and housing issues in the community. She also grew up in Brooklyn Park so we had a great connection. Thank you and the very generous donor for the opportunity to give back to our old neighborhood.
I just wanted to let you know that I gave the $100 “wonder initiative money” to a program where I teach at Arundel High School. I received the following e-mail and instantly thought the money would be put to good use for these students in need.
This year,we have MORE students in great need of assistance whether it is for winter clothing items or new shoes. We also are hoping to serve the entire family to ensure siblings are taken care of, as well. The SGA, Arundel Athletic Boosters, and a local community church (Nichols- Bethel UMC) has generously already committed to providing some essential items for every student. If you are willing and able, we would love and appreciate your help to make sure our students are clothed, warm, and feeling special during the holiday season which can be difficult for some kids.”
I think this was a great idea to “pay it forward”!
When I received the $100 from SPUMC to do something to help others I decided to see if I could help a homeless family. I contacted Dr. Pam Brown, the Executive Director of the AA County Partnership for Children, Youth and Families to see how I could do this. She passed on the information on 2 families who had an immediate need for money. One was a single mother with two daughters who had given up her home in another state and moved here to help her sister through a rough time only to be abused and left without a place to live. The second was a young woman who has been diagnosed with PTSD, having also been abused, and is now living with her daughter in their own place. They needed help with a security system for their apartment because of her diagnosis. I could not select which one so I sent $200 so they could each receive $100. I would like to thank the donors of the gift to SPUMC who inspired me and gave me the opportunity to have this very fulfilling experience.
I am pleased to participate in the Intentional Acts of Kindness Project. Thanks for organizing this, and please extend my thanks to the donor who made this project possible. Yesterday happened to be a special giving day in the UMC, “Global Migration Sunday.” The plight of refugees and migrating peoples is a concern to me, especially given the current political environment. So I am using my $100, plus adding a matching gift of $100, to donate $200 to the Global Migration Sunday appeal.
Today I presented the envelope with the $100 bill to “George”…he likes to be called The Dude. He has been living in his old car for several years in Cypress Creek Parking lot, Woods Church access drive and elsewhere in the area, like behind the Donut Shack. On occasion I have talked briefly with him and learned he is 59 and not a veteran. Woods Church helped him a couple of years ago to have his car inspected and licensed. Last winter I gave him a new blanket.
George has public places he goes during the day to stay warm and clean up. Today he told me he appreciated the gift money because the heater fan in his car gave out and he was getting by on “solar power” and this would be a big help. There is more to his story and our relationship but this should give you a good idea how this gift went to a deserving individual in real need.
I go out almost every day to pick up a salad at one of the grocery stores (Shoppers and Giant) near my office in Annapolis. Both serve very diverse neighborhoods with people of many ethnicities and senior citizens, as well as hire disabled employees. I see many of the same people each time I go and I believed that I would find someone that needed the money. As I began my search, I found that my decision making was more difficult than I thought it would be. I wanted to make sure that the $100 would make an impact and was really worried about making a mistake. I spoke to my wife about this yesterday and she quickly set me straight. She told me to pray about it and my path would be clear. Excellent advice and even though I knew that, I got wrapped up in the choice and forgot that the purpose was to show someone the love of Christ.
As it happens all the time, prayer works in mysterious ways and as I headed to the Giant for yet another salad I saw a homeless gentleman near the entrance. He had a bed roll, a backpack, and wore a light winter jacket. Immediately I knew this was the person I needed to share the love of Christ with. I kept the $100 bill in the sealed envelope and headed over to talk to him. As I approached, he started to walk away but I managed to catch up to him and told him that I wanted him to take this envelope (no mention of the money inside) in the spirit of Christ and told him “God Bless You.” I shook his hand, which was weathered and cracked, gave him a hug, and told him to be safe. He had a curious look on his face, responded with a thank you, and headed toward the parking lot. I headed inside the Giant, and once inside, glanced back through the windows. I saw him opening the envelope, pause for what seemed a long time, and turned back toward the Giant. I did not stick around and headed to the salad bar, only guessing what must be going through his mind. I have no idea what he will do with the money and really do not care other than I hope it goes for nourishment and clothing but that is his choice.
There is so much need in this world and we can do so much more than we do. This project is very special and gives us an opportunity to show the community there is good out there. It was surprising to me that I tried to make the giving more difficult than it should have been. It made me realize that need is everywhere and giving should be without hesitation or overthinking the act. As in many cases, the giver gets as much as the receiver…
I already gave the $100 from church yesterday to a mother to use to buy Christmas presents for her children, who are students at the elementary school where I am the school nurse. We have many needy families here, including homeless families. We made one mom really, really happy!