Thursday, May 18, 2017

How Change Has Changed

Today was the last day of school of what has been an incredibly fast year. As I was walking through our elementary playground yesterday afternoon, third grader Keith asked me if he could still bring his Honduras bottle to me in the morning. SURE! I'll always take change for the little ones in Haiti and Honduras! We are completing our 19th year of collecting at WCS- my guess is we are in the $160,000 range for a total in the close to two decades we have done this. I added an incentive this year for our students. Anyone who turned in their bank bottle could guess how much I collected, shown in the mayonnaise jar above. The winner was junior Isaiah Alonzo who came closest to the $25.20 and won ten dollars! We are about 95% finished with the count. My estimation is that we will be between 7 and 8,000 dollars. We still have some coming in, like Keith, so it's inexact but I am a pretty good calculator. That's what nineteen years does for you!

Here's something that's been trending for several years now in this project: we don't get as much as we did in the early years when we were over $10,000 on a couple of occasions, even breaking $12,00 once. There were some advantages we had back then. One is that it was brand new and more exciting- now the kids know we are always going to be doing this work every spring. Another plus was that many families turned in large piggy banks with years' worth of pennies/nickels/dimes/quarters gathering dust but those became rarer and rarer as their kids ascended the grade ladder. I've tried to figure out ways to maximize our efforts and by all measures, we do a better job than we did at first, just without the numbers to back it up. But I think I'm starting to get a little smarter due to several interviews I've heard on the radio on the topic of our becoming a cashless society. What I now think is that with the astronomical growth of debit and credit cards, there simply is not as much change as there was in the past. I should have clued in as I seem to be the increasingly isolated customer at the store who pays with cash and is rewarded with metal currency for the difference. Maybe we are getting just as high a percentage of the change available in our school. Maybe there's just a smaller supply to draw from.

The go-to story on giving in the Bible is always the widow who put two small copper coins in the temple treasury as related in  both Mark 12 and Luke 21. Jesus remarked the anonymous woman gave out of her poverty in contrast to the other worshipers who contributed from their wealth. He relates how she gave all she had to live on. That's the one thing I don't like about online giving. (Disclaimer: I am in the mental deliberations to add it as my bank is now starting to charge me for checks!) You lose the visual giving  example for little ones. I always saw folks putting in money in the collection plate as a child and it has stuck with me. We were required to put part of our allowance in the weekly contribution and believe me, it was never green and paper. But the economy has changed, pardon the pun, and I have yet to figure out how to deal with it in this aspect of my work. It's still worth it- children in need are being helped- but the human prideful side of me feels less adequate. Maybe that's the point of what Jesus was saying, though. It's not the amount- it's the intent. Our kids no doubt have that intent. Not one of them ever asks our grand total. That's the question the grownups ask. As usual the little ones are closer to the truth. Penny for your thoughts?

Applicable quote of the day:

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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