$3.75 and Five Cents

Three dollars and seventy-five cents is not a lot of money in the world I live in. Bus fare here is $2.25, and since I’ve given up sugar and soda, there’s not much that I could do with the remaining $1.50 except maybe wash a load of laundry. (I’d have to find another .50 to get the load dry.)

So, what is the value of $3.75? A bus fare and a household chore half done? Nope. As it turns out, $3.75 can buy hope, faith, and a whole lot of humility.

For the last month or so I have been a temp for the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. I’m the assistant to the Executive Assistant to the CEO. Glamorous, I know. Really, I enjoy the work I do and it is fun to see how things are run from an internal-ish perspective.

On March 11th the gears started really turning.  I watched in horror as report after report showed the footage from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.  Calls began flooding into the Red Cross as everyone scrambled to figure out how to effectively handle the local response to this international disaster.

As the days progressed I’ve been so amazed by the resiliency, humility, and respect that the Japanese people have displayed as an amazing example to the world. You don’t hear about looting or raiding. You hear about people lining up at grocery stores to purchase what meager goods they can obtain for their loved ones and neighbors.

Since I am not part of any team that would handle donations I have just listened to what I can about the response that is happening in the Salt Lake Valley from others in the office who get to take the donations.  People are calling to see if they can donate goods or clothing and how they need to go about contributing money.  Corporations are responding with donations in the thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even in the millions.  And the volunteer coordinator, Kristy, told a story about 2 small girls who came into the office with their parents because they wanted to give what they had, the younger of the two adding her five pennies from a zip lock bag.

Today I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Red Cross at the ABC affiliate here in Salt Lake. The station hosted a telethon to raise funds to add to the funds being sent to Japan.  I took a shift on the phones during the 6pm news broadcast. I have no idea how many calls I took, but one stood out to me.  I answered and asked the caller how much she wanted to pledge today. She said, “All I have in my account is $3.75.”

As a single girl who has spent lots of years living from paycheck to paycheck, and even sometimes living without a paycheck, I know that feeling.  I understand what it is to look into your bank account and feel like you’re searching through couch cushions in an attempt to find what isn’t there.  I have no idea what this woman’s life is like, but I know that her call reminded me that there is more that I can do.  All too often I reserve those final pennies for myself, forgetting that my Father in Heaven can do so much more with them than I can.

I am grateful that she was willing to donate what she had left.  It is a reminder to me that there is always something that I can give. It doesn’t matter if it is my last five cents because with them the Lord can restore hope, build faith, and strengthen testimony.

*For more information on how you can help and to find out what the Red Cross in your area is doing to help the relief effort in Japan please visit the American Red Cross website.  Do what you can, you WILL make a difference.