Right, before I start, I’d just like to say I ummed and ahhed about writing this post. I’m not trying to indulge in wanton self-publicity, I just wanted to share a fun bit of this morning. If you read it and think it smacks of pride, feel free to comment to that end :) Disclaimer over!
So, last time we went to Tesco earlier this week, I noticed they had a little display/stand/member of staff collecting donations for a local food bank. The deal was, if you made a donation, Tesco would add an extra 30%. I figured that wasn’t too bad a deal – a chance to claw back some of their profits :)
So, this morning, after church, the boys and I went to Tesco. Little Boy was put in the trolley, and Big Boy decided he wanted to push (I’m pleased to report that there were no innocent bystanders harmed; nor, indeed, any guilty bystanders). We went to the food bank donation stand and they gave us a list of foods that people needed (and that had a good shelf life!). We then had a lot of fun wandering around Tesco buying a variety of soup, pasta, rice, sauces, cereal and the like. Now, I have to say, I did struggle (as I did with the idea of writing this post) with an ongoing questioning of my own motives and wondered if I was merely doing this to feel virtuous. But actually, I really enjoyed taking stuff off the shelves knowing that someone was going to really benefit from it. And when we got to the cereal aisle, I picked up Frosties and Coco Pops, because I looked at my boys and tried to imagine not just how I’d feel if we were in the position of having to go to a food bank to feed them, but also about what things would make their little eyes light up if we brought it home in a food bank parcel. And Coco Pops and Frosties seemed to fit the bill.
Then we paid (figured it was best to do so!) and drifted over to the donation stand. I put Little Boy’s shoes back on, and took him out of the trolley. I then pushed the trolley over to the stand (thereby blocking their sign!). The woman on duty there gave me a quizzical look and I told her it was for their food bank donation. She still looked quizzical, then, after a second, said, ‘what, all of it?’, somewhat incredulously. ‘Yeah’, I responded (now feeling a little embarrassed, as she wasn’t exactly quiet in her questioning). I can’t remember her precise response, but I gather she was rather surprised. I started beating a somewhat hasty retreat, but before we got to the door, she called out (loudly) ‘Wait, do you want you chocolate?’. Now it was my turn to look quizzical. ‘We’re giving out chocolates as thank yous’ she said, ‘do the boys want a chocolate?’ We duly trooped back for a chocolate (the journey home would have been unpleasant if I’d declined!). The lady (who had by now been joined by a colleague) told me that it had made her day; perhaps her year.
And yet it was really quite simple. It just took a bit of money and a bit of time, and not only did we have fun, I hope we have made someone else’s life just a little bit easier. I hope that we’ve just helped to ease the pressure for a family or individual who’s struggling.
Also, perhaps just as importantly, it was a chance to teach my boys something about giving and helping. Big Boy and I chatted in the car on the way home about why we’d done it, how Mummy and I would feel if we had to rely on a food bank, and how great it would be to know that there were people out there who’d given something to help us through a rough patch. We talked about how what we have is ultimately from God. Yes, we work hard (well, more Anna than me…), but before we took this job, we prayed about it. We believe that God led us here and God wants us here. And God gives us stuff and we need to use it well. We massively blessed, but I don’t think it’s because God just wants us to have a comfy life!
So we went to Tesco and had a fun shopping trip. And we didn’t even have to unload the car when we got home. Perfect :)
As an aside, just to explain how we do giving in our household. We have a separate bank account. A standing order goes out of our main bank account every month and into our ‘giving’ account. The giving account then has a few direct debits/standing orders that go out to charities/church etc. This means that our giving doesn’t get absorbed by general expenditure. Some months we’re not good enough with budgeting and need to borrow some back, but as a general rule, having a separate giving account helps us to avoid the temptation of spending money that is earmarked for giving away. There’s also a bit left over in the giving account every month, which allows us to give to other things as they crop up, and occasionally to have a fun shopping trip to Tesco :) I don’t tell you this because it’s the only way to do giving, or because it’s the best way, but simply because it’s a way that works for us.