I spoke in our elementary chapel this morning, kicking off our Honduras and Haiti project. Following is one of the many stories I could tell from our years of collecting change. It is from May 9, 2013.
In life, there are many things which at first glance appear to be insignificant which in reality are a big deal. We are in the middle of our fifteenth annual collection of change at Westbury Christian School. The project, which was carried over from Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, Tennessee, helps support and maintain Hope For Haiti's Children and Mission Lazarus. Both groups aim to do a variety of good works, primarily to get children off the streets in Honduras and Haiti and place them in a loving and stable Christian environment. During these fifteen years at WCS, we have raised close to $130,000, primarily through special made coin bank bottles for each student K-12 as well as faculty and staff. The kids bring their bottles back the first week in May each year and we do all of the counting and sorting in my class room. It's a tradition the kids look forward to and I do as well. There's lots of lessons to be learned with pennies/nickels/dimes/quarters.
Dealing with all this metal money is really a two step process. First, we sort and then we count. I make a big deal with the students that the banks trust us and when we say a bank bag has $100 of nickels, it has $100 of nickels. I stress being careful when we sort; counting a dime as a penny is a 1000% mistake both for the banks and the children we are helping. The kids like sorting more than counting. We find all sorts of stuff as we go through what is dumped into a huge laundry hamper we use as a receptacle. Foreign currency, Chucky Cheese and car wash tokens, jewelry- it's all there! Two years ago, we found some bullets- 22 shells. This morning, there was a piece of an OREO cookie. We make sure the kids wash and sanitize their hands when we finish for the day! Money is filthy.
During third period on Monday, Jonathan came up to me with a question. As his Gospels class sorted coins, he had found an interesting quarter. He asked if he could swap it out with one in his billfold. I told him that was fine; that's not an unusual request. The next day, however, Jonathan came up to me in my classroom and held out five one dollar bills. Apparently, he collects coins and he looked up the value of the quarter he took. He was putting the market value of the quarter back into the children's fund. I told him he didn't have to, that he had made a good business decision and it was his to keep. After all, no one else recognized its value and we were none shorter for the swap- it was simply one quarter for another in the eyes of the rest of us. But Jonathan would have none of my argument and insisted I take the cash for the greater good. I did and we have not spoken of it in the ensuing two days.
My job description is to teach the scriptures to eighth and tenth graders with a smattering of freshmen/juniors/seniors blended in for good measure. It's also my obligation to model the things that Jesus taught about living a life pleasing to God. Jonathan's example of integrity was flawless. Jesus taught about money and its wise use and this sophomore demonstrated a mastery of the lessons as well as the application. I would have never known about his investment and I mentioned that I believed it was his to keep. Jonathan didn't feel that way and in retrospect, I'm glad he didn't. Ethical people are much more difficult to find than shrewd businessmen. In the Parable of the Talents, the servants who pleased the Master with their handling of his possessions were praised and promoted and compensated. Jonathan increased the value of that 25 cent piece by 2000% for children who can't fend for themselves. That's a pretty good investment in the kingdom of heaven. Maybe I should let him handle my money!
Applicable quote of the day: