Last night I went to church to help "stuff" boxes for the deployed military church members. Several people donated items and the person who heads the project up donated a considerable amount of her personal resources to make sure that there was enough. The boxes included personal items, food, and all of those little comforts of home that we all take for granted when we get off of our couches from watching football all afternoon or the Hallmark Christmas movie marathon that is on and head to the pantry.
Of course, at the risk of mocking people for giving what they have, I will tell you that I always find it interesting that people will use times like these as an opportunity to clean out that drawer, shelf or medicine cabinet to get rid of stuff that should have long ago found Mr. Dumpster. I found this same phenomenon to be true when the church was collecting items for the Tuscaloosa and Elmore County tornado victims last April. My take on donations is this: if you wouldn't want to receive it...you shouldn't give it. That goes for the weird can of something you bought for a recipe that you never got around to languishing in your pantry when it is food drive time.
What I guess I'm saying is that it is fine to give out of your abundance...especially you couponers who have a stash of perfectly good "stuff" that you paid nothing for sitting in a closet in your house. But I think that we are called to give sacrificially. I want to believe that some people who gave had an honest appreciation for what our military does, and they marched to the store and bought a few items that they thought might be appropriate. In fact, I'm pretty sure that this was the case because I saw two Nerf basketball goals, batteries, and some dog toys.
Yes, there are usually dogs around most of the places that the soldiers are deployed. I remember seeing the stories of dogs being shipped back, and know that these four-legged friends add comfort for a lot of the soldiers who are missing being at home terribly.
I hope that this season you will find something that you can do for the military that is deployed, the families that are left behind, or those who you come in contact with as you go through your daily life. I know that I often see soldiers eating in restaurants or walking through the parking lot at Wal-Mart because we have two military bases in Montgomery (Maxwell and Gunter). I always smile, but I've never worked up the courage to just say "thank you for serving."
That changes this week. Because without them...the freedom that I think I have is a mere illusion.
In a few weeks, there will be opportunities to donate to "Toys for Tots" and there's always a way to give to the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) if you have the means and the inclination. I know that times are tough...but truth be told...we don't know tough.
Not like they do.