Why Sharing Beats Partying

for the week of December 10, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

A couple of years ago, an international firm with 13,000 employees cut its Christmas party and put the $360,000 it typically costs to another cause. No, it wasn't a raise for the company's top executives. It was used to buy food, clothes, and toys for needy families with company employees invited to deliver them.

The initial reaction of some was to take offense at having their annual party scrubbed. As the people actually began making deliveries, however, their mood seemed to change. "This has changed my life!" one told her boss, as reported in Fortune magazine's report of the experiment.

Perhaps you've read of the West Coast pastor who handed out $100-bills to 100 members of his congregation last year. That original $10,000 has grown to an estimated $500,000 as people have taken the original gift as their cue to be creative with various projects to help their struggling neighbors.

I know three college students who were given $100 in a similar experiment. They were initially stumped as to what to do. Then they hit on the idea of going to a nursing home, asking its social worker about residents who had no family, and trying to do something for them. They were given the names of eighteen souls who had no one but the paid staff at the facility to pay them any attention.

Those eighteen elderly persons had needs ranging from flannel gowns and sweat pants to baseball caps and shirts. And every one of them wanted some type of puzzle, paint-by-number kit, or coloring book. Now the girls were pained that they had only $100 to spread over so many items. They chose the eight who were in the most austere conditions and went to work. They added some of their own money. They got a local business to donate four caps. They shopped and wrapped the packages which have already been delivered. And the other ten? One of the girls got her Sunday School class to adopt them this Christmas.

Have you passed by an Angel Tree in the mall? Have you thought about a lonely person in a nursing home lately? Know anyone who has lost his or her job in the recession? With a tiny bit of creativity, you might be able to help just one.

The point of this is not to make you feel guilty about your Christmas party or a gift you're expecting. It's just to remind all of us that Jesus taught, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." What a life-changing truth to learn.

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