When fighting for my life, I lamented the many lost opportunities to raise my children knowing the value of donations and charity. My focus shifted to building a foundation of family values. I purchased a custom charity box with modern lines and accents of metal curves which brought attention to the personalized message emblazoned in gold script on blue shimmery glass: Enrich Our Lives By Giving. The hebrew word for charity, ‘Tzedakah,’ danced in artistic lettering so those who didn’t read Hebrew would still know the meaning of the swirling gold decoration. It had weight and substance worthy of more than a glance. This piece of art was a joy to feed…
…and became the heart of our home displayed in a prominent place on the kitchen counter.
The perfect time to put our new tradition into place was during the children’s after school snack. I retrieved the envelope of bills conveniently stored in a kitchen drawer, held up a bill and shared something I did that day to enrich another person’s life.
“Today, I made a meal for my friend whose mother is in the hospital.” I put the dollar in the box.
As I passed around a bill to everyone present, I would ask, “How did you bring light into someone’s life today?” This question demanded a far more interesting answer than, ‘How was school today?’ The children shared interesting tidbits of information I may not have heard otherwise, like comforting, sharing or volunteering to help a friend. I got a glimpse of the beautiful soul residing in each child who joined in. Likewise, this ritual gave me an opportunity to share the effort I put forth to make a difference in the world. I didn’t always have something profound to say. Sometimes, it would be as simple as, ‘Today, I smiled at a stranger.’
One day, Jeremy came in shouting, ‘Mom, get the envelope out! I’ve got a really good one!” He grabbed a bill and held it high announcing, “Today, I was the captain of the kickball team. I knew who I wanted to choose first, but instead, I chose the kid who is always chosen last!”
Overcome with emotion, I didn’t feel one dollar was enough. I emptied the entire envelope and stuffed it all in the charity box. I would much rather reward acts of compassion, then straight A’s on a report card. Being socially conscious has more mileage on the road of life than anything taught in school.
Over the years, this charity box collected layers of fingerprints from consistent use. The accompanying envelope of bills would pass from hand to hand as we acknowledged what we were grateful for that day. The more consistently we did it, the more thoughtful the answers became.
Our charity box was the personification of gratitude and love. Random kind acts happen everyday but most go unnoticed. Feeding the box was simultaneously feeding our souls, creating a way for us to give to those less fortunate and to acknowledge the small unrecognized acts of kindness we perform everyday. Telling children how to behave is far less effective than modeling the behavior you wish to see. No matter how small the act, sharing these kindnesses created a recipe to instill values that had a lasting impact.
How did you bring light into someones life today? Scroll down to the bottom and share your story. Our community of readers would love to hear what you have to say!
On a hot summer afternoon, I donated two bulk boxes of individual ice cream treats to the homeless shelter.
Years ago, I heard you speak about parents doubling monetary gifts to children and tell them half was for them and half for charity. I took up that tradition with our granddaughter who is now twelve. The cutest thing was around age three, she asked, “who is Charity?”
You are an angel, Dear Eva!
I’m touched by the question, “Who is Charity?” and you continue to teach the value with the ice cream on a hot day – what a treat and a kindness.
Earlier today, I emailed the two little girls I sponsor through World Vision. I have been sponsoring children for over 20 years. First it was Sammy in the Philippines, then Awa in Senegal, and now Aminata in Senegal and Somali in Cambodia. They so enjoy receiving my emails as do I enjoy receiving letters from them. The monthly donation helps the children with so many aspects of their lives, from food to school supplies and even a goat ! Years ago, Sammy would send me a piece of paper with his foot traced on it. I would cut it out and go to the store to buy him shoes and flip flops so he would have something on his feet. I remember hearing your Beautiful story about the charity box when I attended your motivational presentation. I wish I had thought of something like that when we were raising our son. Your ideas are so inspiring!
What a beautiful act of kindness….what a great idea to use an outline of a foot to know the shoe size. Thank you for sharing.
You are a constant inspiration to all who meet you & read your wonderful words–your tragedy turned into a gift for all of us to learn from by reading your blog & those fortunate enough to meet you in person…..blog on my special friend❤️
Thank you Helen! Blog on I will 🙂