It Really Is Simple

Over three years ago, we drove down the street, saw a man and his two daughters standing in front of a business and stopped to give each of the girls a doll. We found out later that this father had his girls for the weekend and they had asked him for toys that morning. He told them he didn’t have the money to buy them toys. He could never have guessed that they would each be given dolls later that morning.

Random Acts of Kindness 044

We stopped at a bus stop on a cold winter day to serve hot chocolate and offer hats and gloves. One young girl was eager to receive the hot chocolate. Her dad was not so sure. Oblivious to that fact, she asked for some for him too. Forty-five minutes later in a completely different part of town, we see this daddy-daughter duo again at a different bus stop. We were convinced it was meant to be. Conveniently located next to a McDonald’s we offered to buy them lunch. He opened his coat to show us a brown bag containing food that he said he had been given by a local charity when we saw him at the other bus stop. We casually suggested they save that for dinner and we drove through McDonald’s to get them lunch and a gift card for another time. I will never forget the girl’s excitement over her happy meal and the smile on her dad’s face.

These are just two of the stories from the early days of our acts of kindness adventures.  We had no way of knowing it would become “Salina Shares.”

Have you ever wished that you could do something to help someone, but just didn’t know where to start? Have you ever heard of needs but didn’t think your small contribution could make much difference? Have you realized that you have extra of some things and are ready to find a way to share them? Have you recognized real needs around you and are wondering how you make your extra someone else’s provision?

It really is simple.

I named these efforts of ours “Salina Shares” because it could include anybody in Salina. Individuals, families, churches, businesses, schools, organizations… anybody.  In the two years since we have taken that name, we have had the privilege to see more and more people sharing their time, their extra things and their money to help meet the needs of others.

It really is simple.

A couple years ago I was notified of an urgent need for $400. Generally speaking, Salina Shares does not have or give cash. I didn’t have $400 and I didn’t know anybody I could ask for that amount of money. I still don’t. The need was legitimate and I couldn’t get it off my mind. However, as I thought about it, I was pretty sure I could find 20 people that would be willing to contribute $20. It was one of the first times that we were able to meet a big need with everyone simply contributing what they could. In the process, I had a friend of mine give me a silver butter knife. She said she was keeping it for a rainy day in case she ever needed to pawn it for some extra money. She explained that she didn’t have $20 but still wanted to contribute. She gave me permission to pawn the knife. I did not. I will always keep that butter knife. It is a beautiful symbol of the generosity that is at the heart of Salina Shares.

In January, 2014 we implemented the Laundry Love (TM) program, based on the national initiative (www.laundrylove.org). Now, we are in all 3 laundromats in Salina helping people with the costs of doing laundry. We offer it as an act of kindness to everybody who walks through the door during the times that we’re there. Those who need it are always grateful. Those who don’t, generally say, ‘Use it for someone that needs it more than I do.’  We have no big benefactors. We have  people who set aside quarters each month, or drop some change into one of our containers in businesses that have agreed to be collection sites. We had a leadership group donate $84, another workplace donate $100 by paying to wear jeans, a single mom who saves the quarters that she gets in tips as a server and donates them to us each month. We get quarters in jars, in ziplock bags, and in rolls. Last month a man at the laundromat was fascinated by what we were doing and asked me about it. When he left, he handed me $20 and said, “I love what you’re doing.” There are lots of people doing what they can when they can to make Laundry Love a success.

It really is simple.

Missy sat in my living room a year ago and said she loved what Salina Shares does but she didn’t have a dime to contribute. I told her that didn’t matter. In the year since, she has headed up The Valentine Project, The Scarf Project, acquired free industrial shelving for the Salina Shares building, and put me in contact with a woman who donated a household of furniture that we have passed on to those in need.

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I have known Debbie about  3 weeks. She saw scarves hanging from trees in downtown Salina and was intrigued. She looked at the tags and saw the Salina Shares logo. She looked us up online and emailed me. That night she went home, collected about 15 scarves, took them to one of our drop off points and they were put out around town the next day. A couple weeks later, she showed up at our afternoon Laundry Love with a baggie full of quarters and 3 hours of her time. Now she is baking and decorating  cookies for our Valentine Project.

I hear of needs daily through a variety of agencies. Many of the time, people have nothing. Sometimes they have moved here from out of town or out of state with just one suitcase of belongings. They have escaped domestic violence, are just getting housed after living on the streets or in their cars, have been living in hotel rooms or are at the point of starting over from scratch after the loss of a job, loss of their health, death of a marriage or death of a loved one. When I ask them for a wish list, three things commonly top the list: toilet paper, pots and pans and towels. It certainly puts things in perspective. Most of the time we are able to provide cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, dishes, pots and pans, silverware, towels, sheets and blankets. Sometimes we have furniture. It is all people’s extra that they are willing to give away instead of sell. In some instances, we are even given new items.

It really is simple.

We each share what we can, when we can.

The other day my friends delivered this to my home…

Cleaning Supplies

It’s not often I get excited about cleaning supplies, but they had donated not only what we need to give to others, but went an extra step in organizing it for me, saving me precious time! The time and effort they went to made me happy for days, but as I look at these buckets of cleaning supplies, I think, it really is simple.

It is the beauty of Salina Shares that people can give what they can when they can and still be an integral part of helping others and meeting needs. Being a part of such a process is life-giving and the sense of community that results is amazing!

Wherever you happen to live geographically, I encourage you to find the joy of sharing what you have with another human being.

It really is simple.

Abundance is… Learning to Share Well With Others,

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About debbierivers

I love to share what I can whenever I can. My goal is to live simply and love lavishly. I enjoy inspiring others with my writing. I am married to Steve and am the mother to two beautiful daughters, Hannah and Jenna, and grandmother to Kinsley. My desire is to encourage and to bless others through my life and my words.
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