From time to time, I find myself going through my closet and digging out clothes that I haven’t worn in a while and then trucking them over to the local charity shop. It can be a dangerous expedition though.
How could it be dangerous, you may ask yourself. Well, here’s what happened to me a few years ago when I decided to donate a big box of shirts and sweaters to a charity thrift shop.
I remember the time in 2005 when I filled up a big box with shirts and sweaters that I hadn’t worn in a while. I was living in Central Pennsylvania at the time. I put the big box of clothes in my car and drove off to the nearby thrift store, which was run by a well known national charity. When I got there, I carried the big box into the thrift shop. I was so proud of myself for being so charitable.
I had no idea that I was about to learn two spiritual lessons. The first lesson was obvious, being that there is true value in giving to help others. But the second one came to me with no warning at all. That lesson was about humility.
I placed the big box of sweaters and shirts on the counter. The dear, sweet, little old lady behind the counter graciously smiled at me and simply said, “are you donating these clothes to the shop?” I smiled and told her that I was.
As she took the sweaters and shirts from the big box and placed them across the counter, a look of concern came across her face. Without missing a beat she called out, “Marge, can you come over here a minute?”
The lady who beckoned to her call had been pricing clothes just to our right hand side, she was also behind the counter.
The sweet, little, old lady looked at Marge and asked, “what do you think Marge?”
“I don’t know, Lucille, they’re kind of out of style,” Marge said to the dear, sweet, little old lady who was still taking my shirts and sweaters of the big box and placing them across the counter.
“I know, I was concerned about whether or not they would sell,” Lucille said.
Good grief! What a lesson in humility. This was a small town in Central Pennsylvania. A place where guys would go out on dates to the local sandwich shop on Saturday nights, wearing grease-stained flannel shirts.
“Well, I guess they’ll sell. We’ll put them in the ‘reduced price’ rack,” Marge assured Lucille.
For a couple of years, I didn’t bring old clothes to that charity thrift shop again. Then I got to thinking about it. If even one person bought just one of my shirts from the “reduced price” rack, who was in a place in his life where he couldn’t afford to buy a shirt at a regular store; then I accomplished something worthwhile. And, what Marge and Lucille thought, did not matter to the person who was buying my old shirts and sweaters from the “reduced rack.”
Sometimes we simply have to ignore the Marge and Lucille types and carry on giving and giving and giving of ourselves to help other people.
Till Tomorrow, Richard