I guess it must have been about a year ago that I discovered an organization called 29 Gifts. They have a 29-Day Giving Challenge. The idea is that you give at least one gift a day for 29 days and record what happens. They don’t have to be big expensive gifts; even a smile and a kind word to an overworked store clerk counts.
The organization was started by a woman who suffered from chronic pain. She had a spiritual guide who suggested to her the 29-day gift challenge. She received so much benefit from it that she decided to share it with others, and you can read all about it at www.29Gifts.org.
It just so happens that it’s 29 days till Christmas. My church, Saratoga Federated, has a couple opportunities for giving right now. They have a Christmas tree with tags on it for for different ages of people. Congregants take one or more tags and buy a gift that would be appropriate for that aged person. A couple of weeks ago I spoke with the woman in charge of that gift giving opportunity and asked her who the presents are for. She told me about an organization called Sunday’s Friends. They work with families to try to help them in as many ways as possible. They tutor school children and teach their parents life skills like cooking and how to get a job. For everything a person masters, they are given a coupon. In a couple weeks all these students will come to a place where all these gifts will be set out on tables. They will have an envelope in hand with the coupons they’ve earned, and they can trade their coupons for gifts for their family members. The gifts are unwrapped. It sounded to me like it gives them their dignity. They aren’t the recipients of charity, but rather they have earned the means to be able to choose gifts for their family that they might not otherwise be able to afford. Of course, everyone was eagerly taking coupons for toddlers and young children. I thought of the children who might want to look for a gift for mom and dad with their coupons and not find much to give, so I bought several gifts for adults and one for a teen boy and one for a teen girl.
There’s also been another table at church where there is a collection for hygiene bags for the homeless. They have been handing out gallon-sized baggies with lists of the kinds of items the homeless can use. I filled one of those and turned it in today too.
Much has been given to us. This is the season when we go from Thanksgiving to the gift of God’s Son. For those to whom much has been given, much is required. I challenge my readers to take the 29 Gifts challenge this season.