A Generous Heart

April 8, 2009

My brother Michael will participate in the BP MS 150 April 18-19, 2009. It’s a fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He and his team members from CSC will each ride 180 miles from Houston to Austin. It’s the fifth year my brother has ridden in support of the event and its 25th anniversary. 

Michael is great with people: organizing them, motivating them, inspiring them. He sent out an e-mail solicitation for donations. He said, oh, you weren’t supposed to get one, Cheryl. Meaning: 1) He didn’t want to ask family and friends who have contributed over the years; and, 2) He knew I’ve been on a tight budget.

When I went to his donation page, I pondered how much to donate. I scrolled through the donors: most had offered triple-digit donations; the rest had listed their names but not the amount of their donation.

Immediately, I started wondering what to do. I knew I could give only a modest amount–a double-digit donation–in comparison to the other donations. I didn’t want to look out of place on the donor list. I thought I could simply list my name like the others. That leaves a lot open to interpretation: maybe someone  gave so much they wanted the amount to remain anonymous or maybe someone offered a small donation and didn’t want to be seen in the company of such big donors (I was hanging in this category.)

Then I noticed that the site offered suggested levels for donations (I’m working from memory here): A gold medal for $250; a silver medal for $100;  a bronze medal for $35.

$35. Yes, that’s about right. My personal principal is to give 10 percent of my income to charities and causes I support. 

$35. That represents 10 percent of my current weekly salary. So I decided to sign my name and the amount of my donation. Maybe it will inspire others to make donations, no matter how small. 

Maybe it’s no big deal, after all. Maybe it’s a big deal. (My brother would probably say I think too much.)

It’s a big deal for me.  I wanted my brother to know I support him and one of the causes he cares about.

And today, as I pondered my donation, I remembered a Bible story I loved as a child. It’s from Luke 21:1-4. It’s the story of the widow’s gift. Jesus watches people leave money at the temple. As I remember the tale, a wealthy man gave gold coins. A poor woman left two small copper coins, worth almost nothing.

Jesus said that the widow had given more; for although the man have given a greater sum, he still had plenty of money. The woman, however, gave everything she had.

It’s a beautiful message. For me, it means it’s the intent of your heart and not the amount of the donation. The widow had a generous heart and gave greatly.

Michael, too, has a generous heart and spirt. Ride on, my brother, ride on!

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