I’m often asked about our tag line ‘Bridging the gap in Communities’. What does that mean and why do we feel it’s so important? To us it means making a connection that wasn’t there before. Living in middle class suburbia I have learned that while there is a general sense of community, it doesn’t go too far. Sure there is an annual coat drive or canned food drive and sadly the occasional community fire but other than that, how often do my neighbors go outside their comfortable community to serve? Recently someone called me a philanthropist. I have to say it really bothered me. While the term to some may be endearing, I’m not looking for a label, I’m looking for a way of life. I’m looking for the opportunity to inspire others to step out and step up. I’m looking for ways to respond to God’s love through giving, serving, showing, and teaching. When we step outside of our schools, neighborhoods, townships and boroughs there is another world just a few miles down the street.
As I was reviewing what laid ahead for February, I knew I had items that were purchased through our Gifts for the Community in our store that I needed to get over to the Easton Children’s Home. While taking inventory of the necessities I started to think of something fun I could include. That’s when it hit me – Valentines! Yes, how sweet would it be for all those kids at the children’s home to get a hand made Valentine Card? Ohhh but that is a lot of Valentine’s to make. As I continued my work it hit me. Why not have other kids make the cards for them. And then I remembered the school we did a big renovation project on over the summer. Then all the reasons why that wouldn’t work started popping up, like, they have to ration the paper to the teachers, get very little funding and the list went on and on. And those sweet little kids, why shouldn’t they have the same opportunities my kids have?
My kids are surrounded by ways to give back, and to be honest I think it’s a gift even the least of these should have the privilege to participate in. And while these kids are often the recipients of things due to true need, why should they not be given the opportunity to bless someone else? Proverbs 22:6 says we should, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it’. Maybe this is a way to instill in them how to care and love on others. After discussing it with the principal of the school, she was excited to have her 5th graders participate in creating Valentine’s for the children in Easton. I gathered enough supplies for each 5th grader to create a Valentine along with markers for each classroom to keep for future projects. I grabbed my two youngest kids and headed down to the school to help in one of the classes. What we saw were over 30 students per class that were eager to have the opportunity to be creative and write fun messages to other kids. They were so creative and cute. We saw messages that read ‘stay strong’, ‘have a happy Valentine’s Day’, ‘thinking about you’, ‘God bless you’, ‘you are special’ and so many more sweet messages these kids added to the cards.
When I went back to pick up the rest of the cards a week later, the principal said to me, “Thank you for giving them the opportunity to give back. And they really loved those puffy heart stickers!” I pray these 10 and 11 year old children don’t forget this opportunity. This was their chance to not be the disadvantaged but to be the privileged that had the opportunity to bring to joy to someone else. And that is what Bridging The Gap In Communities is all about.