By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – December 20, 2015) — “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”—John 3:16 (NIV). Slipping a $10 bill inside the last card, I sealed the envelope and prayed my grandchildren would be as enthusiastic as I was about my new Christmas tradition. The idea to give each one $10, along with a letter telling them the cash was not to spend on themselves but for someone in need, was born out of a discussion in my Sunday school class.
Lamenting the fact their grown children bought gifts they didn’t really need, one class member said, “Tom and I have everything. We’d rather them use the money they spend on our gifts to help others.”
She added, “I’m also going to use the money I normally spend on the adults’ gifts to help others. My children don’t need anything.”
Another class member spoke up, sharing a memorable Christmas when he and his adult siblings decided not to purchase gifts for each other. Instead, using their gifts and talents, they made presents for each other that year. “It was the best Christmas ever,” he said.
At this time of year, I love reading and hearing stories of how others seek to help the needy. “Cooper’s Hope,” the headline on a recent “Tulsa World” news story grabbed my attention. Six-year-old Cooper Andrew spied a homeless veteran holding a sign, asking for help. Viewing the rain-soaked man, the first grader asked his mother, “How do people become homeless?”
After his mother explained, Cooper said, “How about we help them, instead of talking about them?”
Out of the young boy’s question came Cooper’s List, a project to collect and deliver goods to the homeless in his community. The project has grown to include Cooper’s entire elementary school where bins have been set up at the entrance to collect donations.
Inspired by Cooper, a teacher at his school set up a Go-FundMe page to allow people to make cash gifts to the project. The money will be used to purchase backpacks in which to deliver the donated goods through a local ministry that helps the homeless.
However, Cooper’s mission didn’t end there. The next Sunday, he asked for permission to speak in front of his church’s congregation. Cooper told them, “If everybody brings something little, we can make a big difference.” Another collection box was set up at his church.
Cooper’s mother says the experience has changed her. “First of all, my son has totally inspired me. Every time I pass a homeless person, I wish I had a backpack to give to them.”
Her attitude toward the homeless has also changed. No longer does she ask, “How can we solve their homelessness?” Now, she says, “How can we show them love?”
John 3:16 defines love. God loved us so much that He gave the world the greatest gift of all. All He asks in return is that we believe and share His love with others.
Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Photo captions: 1) Jesus our Greatest Gift. 2) Carol Round.
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