Monday, December 22, 2008

Season of Giving

The week of Christmas is upon us. My shopping is all done for my little family and our Christmas Cards are sitting here on my table just waiting to be stamped and mailed. All I have left is to finish wrapping presents and fill the stockings, then hang them with care. I'm so excited to think about Gracie's reaction to her presents. She never disappoints with her enthusiasm for opening wrapped presents. It's going to be a good Christmas. Naturally, I wish I knew what it would be like to have this Christmas with Gus here. I bet Gracie would get him all geared up and super excited about his own presents.

Switching gears, on Saturday Robby and I visited friends while Gracie played with some cousins. Before we got to our friend's house, we stopped at a gas station to get a drink. The gas station had the regular cashier you would expect; the woman with a Milwaukee accent, mildly emaciated, and thinning, long brown hair. She was nice enough, though. But as she was giving me my change of 67 cents, she handed me 50 cents and the other 17 she held in her had and said, "Some for the children?" and gestured toward one of those charity boxes with the underprivileged kids, practically putting the change in there for me. I was totally caught off guard and hesitated a second, then said, "No, thanks." She and Robby were both surprised that I'd said no when she'd made it almost impossible to deny her simple gesture.

Now, don't go thinking I'm a terrible person right away. First of all, it's MY 17 cents she was making a decision with and while it doesn't seem like much, we can't afford to just throw away a dime, a nickel and three pennies. You are probably thinking that I wouldn't be throwing it away, but I'd be giving it to those kids. But think of the overhead of the company who had organized this charity. Who knows how much of my 17 cents would actually be going to those kids. Probably none of it, and that was my first thought as she pointed toward to to small plastic box. I'm not saying I don't contribute to any charities, I only like to contribute to ones where I know 100% of my money is going to those who need it, not the organizers.

That's why I do all my charitable contributions through my church. All those who organize and run my church do not get paid and are completely doing their service voluntarily. I can feel good and trust them with the amount of money we can afford to give those who need it because I know they are going to give all my money to those who need it most, and not take any percent, no matter how small, for themselves. That is just one of the many reasons why I love and respect the LDS church so much.

So do you think I was justified in rejecting the Circle K Underprivileged Kids Organization? Or should I have just contributed to avoid the cashier thinking I was a horrible person and try to trust that those kids would get my 17 cents? I feel good about my decision but what do you think? Would you have done it given her peer pressure and already separating your change for you?

I can handle a woman from Milwaukee and and a biker with a handle bar mustache in line behind me thinking what they want.


Emily Ruth said...

Mel, I am so glad you wrote this. Roger and I just had a discussion on this very topic Saturday night. I went to Blockbuster to rent a movie and as I was checking out I handed the cashier a $20 bill. He asked me if I wanted to donate to some organization. Now, I normally do not give $ like that because I donate to the Humanitarian Fund--I figure the Lord knows better what to do with my $ than I do--But I thought, "Heck, it's Christmas. Why not?". So I told him, "Sure, I'll give a dollar". He gave me the rudest, judgingest (is that a word?) look and said,"That's a 20--you should be giving $5". WHAT?!? Are you going to judge me after the year I've had? You don't even KNOW me. Ok, these are all things I wanted to say but didn't. It's a shame, because I feel some of these causes are completely worthwhile. But it is up to us to give what we can, when we can to who we feel--Only the Lord can judge.

Emily Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
aj said...

I think it's weird that she would do that.

Our Christmas card that we sent you came back because we had the wrong address (which is weird because I swear we got the address from Grandma & how often is she wrong?) Maybe I copied it wrong. So how 'bout you email me your address or you can send me one of yours (wow, there I go making decisions for you...sorry). Either one works for us.

Lyndsay said...

great photo! You are a stock photographer in the making. There's even vignetting around the edges! :)