On February 12, 2017, we had a very special surprise for our congregation: during the offering, we gave them money! Pastor Robin applied for, and was awarded, a grant from the Lily Foundation and the Duke Divinity School, worth $5,000, to conduct a “reverse offering.” We handed out almost 200 envelopes containing cash, with amounts ranging from $10 to $50. Pastor Robin simply asked us to do good with the money, and then to share our stories.

Below are some of the many stories that we’ve received. If you haven’t told us your story yet, please do so!

I see a few Daisy Scouts (from Rutland) who are standing in the cold snowy weather trying to sell some cookies. I donated one box ($5) to the wachusett food pantry. It helps the girls earn some money for their troop as well as some one to enjoy a gs cookie from the food pantry. More to come with the rest of the money to share the love.

Nicole Parker

This year, I have many students with various learning struggles- ADHD, anxiety, autism, etc. Many of them need something to keep their hands busy so that they are able to focus on learning, or simply have something in their hand to keep them calm. So, with the share the love money, I bought a set of fidget cubes for my classroom, to be kept in a bucket on the table by the pencil sharpener so that students can grab and use them as needed in my class, no questions asked!

Rachael Hager

My prayer is that a cure for cancer will be found soon. So I have matched the money from the church and have donated it to The Just Cause 3-day cancer walk. I’ve been a part of this organization for 4 years. The money raised by the 60 mile walk is donated to Mass General’s Center for Women’s Cancer and the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Bolton.

Joyce Mara

Jeff and I combined our Love offering with my dad, Charlie Gray for a total of $90.00. We decided to buy blankets and books for a Syrian refugee family in Canada. This family was able to get to Canada because of the hard work and dedication of 5 very ordinary people in Edmonton who made the radical decision to do something to help the Syrians. The group raised over $30,000 and worked tirelessly over a 12 month period to help settle the family. In the process, they connected with other sponsoring groups and agencies and have formed a support network for many Syrian refugee families in the Edmonton area. One of members of the group is the mother of a very dear friend of mine and that’s how we initially got involved. #gettingitdone #radicallove #theydidhardthings

Patricia Keay

Hi, I came to First Church with my daughter and her family on Share the Love Sunday.

I am happy to report that I used the ten dollars to purchase ten pairs of warm socks for my elderly, homeless and poor patients who come for medical care at the Emergency Department in Ware where I work. I am sure there will be lots of smiles as I give these out over the next few days.

Thanks for having me Share the Love!!

Jennifer Mott

Grocery shopping in a snowstorm with my 10-year-old we bought a Valentine bouquet for an elderly woman and Julia delivered it. “Do I know you?” the woman asked. “No,” Julia replied, “Mom and I just thought it would be fun.” Hugs and squeals of delight!

Buying socks for my girl on Feb. 14 I met a special needs adult who kept asking questions of an irritated retailer. I asked the woman if she would like to pick out some socks for herself. She picked the ones that were loaded with hearts and she was giddy with the attention.

I’m noticing that perhaps extending the love that I normally would focus on my immediate family to strangers I encounter is surprising and a BLAST!

Judy Doherty

“Praise God from whom all blessing flow
Praise God ALL CREATURES here below
Praise God for all that LOVE has done
Creator, Christ and Spirit, one.”

As a family of five we put our money together, and then matched it, donating it to the Sterling Animal Shelter. We are animal lovers and it was nice to be able to pick something so meaningful to us to donate to. We feel animals need just as much help as people do sometimes. We also have a personal connection to the shelter as we had a cat that came from them who was a part of our family for many years.

Camron (4) and Caleb (2) had fun bringing a poster and the money to the shelter. This was a meaningful experience and helped us to teach our children how to give.

Thank you Lily Foundation and Duke Divinity School, and of course First Church (Pastor Robin) for allowing us to be part of such a great cause!

Darlington Family

I shared our money with one of my coworkers who frequently uses her own money to buy clothing and other needed items for the patients in our program. Kim does this all the time only because she wants to help others in need. She helps others, and I wanted to help her out this time!

Jennifer and Kevin Moulton

I used the money from the reverse offering as seed money to make a donation to the Rutland Vermont Syrian Refugee Resettlement Program. Some have already arrived and many more (up to 100 total) have been vetted and awaiting the promise of a safer better life. This small city has stood up to do the right thing and Love One Another and I am proud to support them. You can find out more about it on the refugees.org website of the US Committee for Resettlement and Immigration.

It empowered me to be able to do something that will help people who have struggled so much, left their homes and families, have a good start here in this country.

Wendy Campbell

Since I helped to set up this offering, I’ve known about it for several weeks, so I knew that I’d be getting an envelope with money it. I’ve been struggling since then to figure out how best to use the money, hoping I could do so in a personal manner, but the opportunity never presented itself.

Instead, I decided that my $25 would be loaned, via Kiva.org, to Tautua, an unmarried woman with two children living in Samoa who is looking for a loan of $400 to stock her local canteen, in order to make money to pay her weekly living expenses. Once she pays back the $25, I’ll loan it again, and again, and again. Kiva asks for a small cut, for their expenses, but I can probably loan this $25 about seven times until it’s gone.

The quote I just saw on Kiva spoke to me: “Dreams are universal. Opportunity is not.”

Jon Guild

Bruce & I pooled our gifts to help the work of the Source of Life Orphanage in Haiti. Children receive care until they “age out” at 16. They’ve been institutionalized and lack the skills needed for a while new way of life. Dave woks with others to mentor the residents and help them learn basic skills: e.g. shopping, job-hunting, living on your own; living in a new “community”, and so on. He is sponsored by the Board at Source of Light Church in VA. As a person who could have been lost as a child, this ministry seemed imperative to us.

Janet Baker

My family just had the most profound experience. We got to visit with a Syrian refugee family in Worcester with translators through our friends from the Worcester Islamic Center, and we gave them our reverse offering money. We told them that we had a family meeting and decided we wanted to help a refugee family. We said, “we are worried every day, and so angry and scared about what is happening in Syria and we feel so helpless. We just want you to know that you are loved and welcome here in Massachusetts, and that we will stand for you And your safety and right to be here. They told us that in the Muslim faith, they believe that God makes us all brothers and sisters, and they thanked us with tears in their eyes. We met all six of their sweet children, who kissed and hugged us, and they served us Syrian coffee, which is super strong like espresso. They told us, crying, the story of a bomb that went off in their kitchen and burned one of their six children, who is still alive today and can now lift her arms above her head after being in the hospital for a year in Turkey while they waited to go through the American vetting process. The father talked about how he was so thankful to take multiple forms of public transportation with his 10 year old to get her burns treated in Boston because his family is all together, and he doesn’t have to worry about his kids being bombed on the train. He cried. They are going to come over to our house for dinner next because they told us that we are some of their first friends in America, and in their country only family checks in on people, which means we are their family. Andy, Cecilia and I cried. I left committed to do whatever I can to help Syrian refugees, furious that my once hospitable and brave country has become a home of hatred and fear because of its leadership.

Robin, Andy, Cecilia, Eloisa, Isaac

When I opened my Share the Love envelope I was overwhelmed with possibilities of who could be helped by the money inside. I thought about what to do for several days, when I was caught a CNN segment about a Native American tribe, the Lakota people on Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota that are so impoverished that they have no heat in their homes. Wood is hard to come by, the people have to travel for miles to retrieve the wood, and they can’t afford the gas to take them there. They have to resort to burning clothing in their wood stoves to stave off the sometimes 40 degree below temperatures. It is not only fuel they lack, it is nutritional foods for their families. Native Americans are a proud culture and yet we step all over them…running pipelines through their sacred spaces and overlooking their needs. The One Spirit is a non-profit, Native American service organization founded to assist and support American Indians. If you look on their website (nativeprogress.org) you can read about their beautiful belief system. I was so taken by the television segment that I not only Shared the Love money but I matched it. This is part of my belief system that if everyone does a little a lot will happen!

Sue Smith

I’m lucky to have been a participant in the First Church in Sterling’s Share the Love program. I shared the love (and some baked goods for the staff) with the Sterling Light Department for its Neighbor-to-Neighbor Program. I added to the funds I received to make a total donation of $35, which coincided with the number of years my father, David Murdock, was a lineman for the Town. Serendipitously, his best friend was at the Light Dept. at the same time and we all shared stories about my father.

Susan Murdock

Dear Pastor Robin,

NEADY Cats is a small nonprofit all volunteer cat shelter that moved to Sterling 3 weeks ago. Carol Hoffman recently donated $30 to our shelter on behalf of the First Church in Sterling. Thank you very much for your support. It is only through the kindness of others that we are able to keep cats in our care happy and healthy until we are able to find them a loving home.

Thank you again.

Marilyn Sarkisian, Director, NEADY Cats

Dear First Church of Sterling Representative,

I hope this finds you doing well. My name is Alexander and I am a student who has been visiting Sterling for a few weeks. I was encouraged to participate in your services by a friend – sAm gloyd. I had the pleasure of meeting sAm a couple years ago in Roxbury, when he was a member of the Lucy Stone Co-operative community (LSC). I was fortunate to establish several friendships with other LSC members. As a result, I am always looking for excuses to visit.

Times have been tough for me lately and I felt in desperate need for friends time – the kind of nurturing that fellowship Sunday at LSC excels at offering. However, due to some unexpected financial commitments, I did not have enough money to purchase gas to get to LSC. You solved that problem!

The money I received from The First Church of Sterling on 2/12/17 enabled me (and sAm) to re-connect with my (our) friends at LSC. We feasted like royalty, laughed and sang late into the night. It was truly delightful! My heart danced and my soul celebrated in ways they hadn’t in a long time. Thank you for making the evening possible for me.

Alexander Curtis

I am very happy to “Share the Love” with Abby’s House (Worcester) a shelter for women and children. Their work in providing a safe place for many homeless women and children is wonderful and heartwarming. I believe the reverse offering donation to Abby’s House will be much appreciated as they continue to “Share the Love.”

Thank you Robin for “Creating Heaven on Earth”.

Leslie McNamara

Gift to the LGBT Asylum Support Task Force. An organization dedicated to providing transition assistance to immigrants granted asylum in the US from persecution in their home country (mostly African or Caribbean countries) for their gender preference / identification. The asylum task force is based here in central Massachusetts operating under the direction of Hadwen Park UCC Church in Worcester. It is one of a very few organizations in the world providing shelter to people facing bodily harm, even death, for their gender preference/identification. The people served are officially granted asylum protection under US immigration laws.

Dennis Crimer

My great uncle died last month. The diagnosis was ALS, in December 2015, and the disease moved quickly..robbing him of movement, speech, swallowing…many of the things we all take for granted.

It was an easy decision for Chase and I to pool our money together to share the love in Gary’s honor. He was that important to us.

In 2008, when I was 34, my natural mom found me on Myspace. As the months went by, I met more and more of my maternal relatives. Sue and Gary Eno were two of those relatives. Sue is the younger sibling of my grandfather and Gary, her husband. They lived in Essex, MA on a lake and from 2009 on, my little family was included in their family reunions that they hosted each August.

Gary would take us all on short tours of the lake, on his “pahty bahge”. Proudly pointing out where the movie “Grown Ups” shot some of their scenes and in particular, the scene that my cousin Becca got to be a part of.

Even as the disease progressed, Sue and Gary hosted the reunion last August. You could tell that Gary was being affected, but he never let it slow him down from enjoying himself. Not realizing that it would be the last time I saw him, I did make sure to say my customary, “Love you Uncle Gary” when we left for the day.

When I got the call that he’d passed away, swiftly and suddenly, from a massive stroke, I cried. He deserved so much more time on this earth. But time is fleeting and we don’t always get to choose when the hourglass runs out.

We miss you, Uncle Gary. We share our love offering for you and for all fighters of this disease.

Christina Spagnuolo

I spent more than triple the amount of money I received for a win-win situation. My daughter is extremely sensitive to the fit of her socks and to the seams on her socks, so when I came across Bombas socks I was thrilled. For each pair of socks you purchase, they give a free pair to those in need. From their website:

“Before launching Bombas, we learned that socks were the number one most requested clothing item at homeless shelters.So we started a company with the goal of solving that problem. For every pair of socks we sell, we donate a pair to someone in need. The more socks we sell, the more we can donate. And to sell a lot of socks, we knew we had to design the best sock on the market.”

My daughter loves her new comfortable socks and 10 socks were donated to the homeless from our purchase. They specially design the socks that they donate to “people who don’t have the luxury of a clean pair of socks every day”, and they seem like a great organization. Thanks for this opportunity to “spread the love.” See https://bombas.com/pages/about-us.

Julie Holston

My family and I decided to pool our money from the Share the Love reverse offering and look for a direct need in the Dominican Republic during our Medical Mission to La Romana.

We were installing water filters in a remote village surrounded and cut off by sugar cane fields. This village was almost 2 hours away from access to any medical services. During the time it took to install a water filter in one woman’s home, our team members, Chris and Sofie, noticed that the mother was not feeling well and was complaining of pain. We got the interpreters to sit with this woman and found out that she believed she has been pregnant for 12 years and that the “baby” has been really pushing hard in certain areas of her abdomen recently.

Fearing the worst, a tumor or cancer, our team wanted to make sure that this woman received quality medical attention at the Good Samaritan Hospital, not the public hospital that is not welcoming or particularly concerned about the health of Haitian workers.

I used our Share the Love money to pay for transportation and medical diagnosis and treatment for this woman. Thanks to the caring and thoughtful attention of our two team members, who were not just doing their work but really paying attention to the needs around them, we were able to share the love with potential life saving consequences, far out in the world from the Town of Sterling.

We will be in contact with the medical services in La Romana to follow up on her progress.

Doug Davis

Julia and I were not in Church that particular Sunday but when we heard about what was going on we knew we had to participate. Julia had already decided what she wanted to do with the money so we stopped by the church office for an envelope. Julia had already set aside $5 for the Sterling Animal Shelter so we added the money from our envelope to it and headed to Walmart to purchase paper towels and bleach for the shelter. Julia was very excited to be able to give needed items to the staff and they were very happy to receive them. <3

Paula and Julia Fogerty

We were very surprised that we were to take money from the collection plate instead of give – amazing and shocking! Suddenly we had an awesome responsibility – Use this for good.

During the past 3 weeks, my husband and I have researched several worthy causes including the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law and Earth Justice. It has been fun to learn about organizations that do good work and to consider “the best” way to use the money for good.

We decided to give the money to the North Central Mass chapter of NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness). NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

We know firsthand how valuable NAMI can be. We have a son with bipolar disorder and this group provided invaluable support and resources for our family. While we have given to them in the past, the church money allowed us to give more generously to this crucial organization.

Liza and Larry Hathaway

There is an elderly woman who lives up the street from me. She lives alone with her beloved cats. She lost her two jobs that she had through no fault of her own that allowed her to supplement her monthly SS. Her car recently fell apart and no work done would allow a sticker. That car was bought for her by a friend. Her Church members all contributed enough to purchase a nice newer reliable car!! She was so thankful and happy!!!! She could now continue to go to Church and out for groceries!!! After her rent there is not a lot of money left over. I often drop by with a bag of cat food etc She is always so appreciative for any little gesture.! I knew right away where my share the love money was going to go!! I told her of the Share The Love Gift and that it was supposed to be used for good, and that I knew right away that I was going to give it to her!! Got many hugs and she she that I was always in her prayers and I told her she was in ours too!! Thank you Robin for getting this grant so that we could indeed Share The Love!!! I am blessed to belong to this awesome Church!! This Church is blessed to have you!! Love, Marianne

Marianne Powers

My Office, Central Mass Agency on Aging, collected items for Interfaith Hospitality Network during the of February. They were in need of pillows, bath towels, facecloths and flatware. I used my reverse offering to purchase these items. It felt like a “closing of the circle” moment,..whole.

MPBailey

I donated my money to Concordia Lutheran Church located on Murray Ave. in Worcester.

This inner city Church (which supports the homeless, those in need and refugees) continues to struggle to meet its expenses.

Dianne Williamson wrote a wonderful article in the Telegram and Gazette on Tuesday 02/20/2007, describing the Church and its mission. Much of the information appears accurate to me 10 years later.

S Dumas

We had an equally hard time deciding what to do. We decided to pool our funds and buy white socks for the Worcester Fellowship. Our money purchased 48 pairs of socks and we feel those will go a long way to helping others far less fortunate than us. What a great idea to do a reverse offering and we are thrilled that we were able to participate.

Nancy and Terry Bass

I told Steve about the Share the Love money I received in church and asked what he thought we should do with it. He said he’d like to help someone with an immediate need, like buying a grocery card. So with the $20 we started with , my family contributed enough to make $50 and I bought a Market Basket gift card for whomever the Deacons feel need it now.

This was a wonderful way to share the love of this great church community and it made us feel good!

Louisa

We were delighted to be given the opportunity to give money away to make a difference in the world! Surprisingly, it proved to be quite challenging.There are so many people in need. We did a lot of thinking and talking and finally decided as a family, to pool our money $120.00+$5.00 of our own. Together, we donated to SmileTrain. They are an organization that helps children born with Cleft lips and palates. Smile Train offers cleft surgeries, speech therapy, dental work, medical screenings and follow up care. We happened to be lucky enough to donate while a match program was happening so the money will go even further. We hope to make a difference in someone’s life by giving them a smile. And THAT idea makes us smile. Thank you for this beautiful opportunity to do good.

The Leonard Family

We added to our donation to the Maxwell Baker Foundation for Addiction Recovery, in memory of Max Baker. Max was a member of our son’s class at WRHS. Max passed away just after Christmas 2016, and had struggled with addiction issues during his short life. We’re hoping that this donation will contribute to the desperately needed help for others struggling with opioid dependence.

Laurie & Roy Lane

I hemmed and hawed about the perfect way to distribute the money that I received for the Share the Love Offering. I had it all planned out in my mind that I would be waiting in line to check out and be behind a family who wasn’t able to pay and I would heroically hand over the money— one of those stories that you see posted on Facebook that gets thousands of shares.

Reality hit, and I realized that moment wasn’t something that I could force to happen in 3 weeks time. That will just have to wait for another time to actually be authentic.

After thinking how to best donate my money, I chose to anonymously put it on a student’s lunch account at Clinton Elementary School. This is a child who relies on breakfast and lunch at school each day, and has even been known to eat food off of another student’s tray when they have finished. As a teacher I know that students who are hungry are unable to learn. Although the $30 that I have put on the account certainly won’t provide the child with extra food for the remainder of the year, I know that the food that they are given will be greatly appreciated, even if I’m never thanked from him.

Emily Zinkus

On Valentine’s day…I took my son out of school a little early and then my Tom (7) and I pooled all of our family’s money that we received from the church and surprised some people at Dunkin Donuts with purchases of their items that were waiting in line. We then bought 12 $5.00 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts and approached mostly men (because men/boys are often overlooked on that holiday) at the barber’s shop, car wash, and in the local parking lot and Tom gave them each a gift card and said “I want to spread the love on Valentine’s day by giving you this card.” All of the recipients were so taken aback and happy. Some shook his hand and asked him his name, where he went to school, etc. One man even insisted on paying it forward and offered Tom sone money which he used to buy another gift card. Awesome experience!

Norah, Jeff, and Tom Fredericks

I have struggled with the decision of where to donate my $20. My first inclination was to donate 4 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to the troops serving overseas. Instead, I decided to donate 1 box with my own money. Then I thought about donating the $20 to a non-profit addiction recovery center, but again, decided to donate my own money. I decided on $20 for this cause. And finally, I settled on donating to the New England Organ Bank in honor of a close friend who is awaiting a kidney transplant. I have decided however, to match the $20 with my own $30 and make a donation of $50. So I guess that what the $20 has done is to inspire me to donate much more than the amount that I received at church that Sunday morning. Thank you for the inspiration!

Anonymous

We donated our money from First Church to the Sterling Neighbor 2 Neighbor fund c/o Wheat in Clinton. We put in additional money as well to double the donation.

John and Maura Woodsmall

I received $20. I matched it with $20 of my own and gave it to Heifer International to obtain two flocks of chicks (a mix of male and female). There are 20 chicks in a flock so a total of 40 chicks will be sent to families in locations around the world that are learning about good farming techniques. The most important part of this gift is that the recipients are required to pass on some of the young chicks that are produced by each of these flocks. So this is a gift that keeps on giving at least as long as Heifer is involved.

Bob Dumont

Thank you so much for this huge and beautiful experiment in Trust and Love!

That day in church when we got the reverse-offering was so thrilling! The world felt full of abundance and prosperity. It is awesome to get to be an Ambassador of Giving.

I sent the $25 to help the Standing Rock Sioux, who have been tirelessly serving on behalf of us all, to protect our land and water from the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Amrita Kaur

When I left church on Share The Love Sunday. I went to Hannaford to get a few things. As I left an ambulance drove in. I turned around and followed him. After they parked one got out and I told him I just came from church and my Pastor told me I have to give this money away. He said oh I can’t take that. I told him you don’t understand my Pastor said I have to. The other firefighter came over to the car and asked if he could help. I told him the story and I said please take this my Pastor told me I have to give it away. He said thank you so much. WHAT AN AMAAZING FEELING.

Betty Nelson

For many years, I headed up the community service program at the school where I teach. One program that always resonated for my students was Birthday Wishes (https://birthdaywishes.org/). Birthday Wishes is an organization that provides birthday parties to homeless children and those in area shelters. With the money in the church envelope and an added amount from me, I donated to Birthday Wishes. I think everyone should feel the love on their special day no matter where they are living.

Barbara Quoos

AJ and I used our reverse offering, bringing our combined total ($30) to Wachusett Food Pantry. I also donated a case of Girl Scout cookies (thin mints!).

Kathleen, the volunteer on duty, was so generous with her time! She took us on a tour and talked to AJ about people from our community coming in and getting necessary items, whether they were seniors, families with young children, or people with pets. Much of their stock comes from Worcester Country Food Bank, but he noticed certain supplies were low in stock: toothpaste, laundry detergent, and snack foods–he wants to bring those things when we go again.

It was a great reminder for me of how simple it can be to make a difference in our community–something that’s been harder since I stopped volunteering regularly. And what a great lesson to the children. Such a wonderful opportunity!

Kate Pietrovito

Elle and I opted to pool our resources to donate $50 to Boston Children’s Hospital. Elle chose Children’s because it had significance for her; empathy and compassion for kids battling serious illness that can’t be playing outside, going to school, or spending time with their family or friends. Thank you First Church for this special gift! It’s taught my little girl a valuable lesson in giving back!

Kate Stanley and Elle Madrigal

The night before the offering I was contacted by my friend David, who was getting ready to go to Haiti. He is working on developing a formal mentorship/apprenticeship program for Source of Light Orphanage. He was requesting letter writers for one of the kids, and told me of his plans. When I first received my envelope, I thought I would use it to get stuff for La Romana, then realized I would only be substituting that money for what I would do anyway, so I decided to send it to Haiti to help teach kids how to function outside the walls of the orphanage before they age out. A few others combined their money with mine, and together we have paid for two months of classes and outside experience for at least one of the boys. Thank you for helping me show David and the SOL Board that this program matters.

Jenn Colburn

Dear Rev. Bartlett,

In today’s Item, I read with interest the article about your parish and the “reverse offering.” One of the stories was of particular interest to me. One member donated his offering to the lunch account of a needy child he knew at the Clinton Elementary School.

I taught school at the elementary level for 35 years. I am now retired. I am hoping that you will be kind enough to find that teacher and ask him to use my enclosed donation to add to that child’s lunch fund.

The “reverse offering” sounds like a wonderful idea, giving people the opportunity to help others. More churches should follow suit.

I thank you in advance for your help.

Anonymous

I had $15.00. I was moved to give it to a couple. I didn’t know if they needed it, or if they just needed a gesture of faith, or maybe I needed to experience giving unconditionally. I can’t say anymore in the interest of privacy, but I am grateful to First Church for this exercise, and this opportunity.

Yumi

We gave our reverse offering to two different local woman who had been through some difficult times.

Nancy and Tony Castagna

With SO many options, it was hard to decide where to put my money. Initially I was inclined to donate to a political organization, but I was worried that it was a relatively small donation and I didn’t want it to get “lost” in administrative costs. At the same time as we received our gifts, the announcement was made that our youth were planning a mission trip to NYC to work with the homeless…aha, a solution! I doubled my money and donated to the First Church Youth. I am pleased to support the mission of the next generation.

Robin Harper

I shared the love at the Sterling Aniimal Shelter. Animals are so amazing and we must take care of them.

Toby O’Reilly

Rob and I spend so many of our weekends caring for and visiting our four elderly parents that don’t make it to church as often as we would like. So, we were not in church when the money was handed out but wanted to share the love of First Church. Walking by the Wachu-feminists club table at Wachusett Regional one lunch time, I saw that they were collecting money for three causes they felt were important: a refugee organization, Planned Parenthood, and the Malala Fund. I decided this was where I would have put First Church’s money if we had been there, so I donated on behalf of the church.

Cheryl Barwise

My envelope contained $10 which I matched for a donation to a non-profit called TASKS for TRANSIT. Tasks for Transit focuses on helping people access charities and services in Greater Worcester through a simple gesture–buying WRTA public bus passes. Day passes are then distributed to those who could benefit from them through partner charities…including one already supported by First Church members: the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Worcester.

Per www.tasksfortransit.org, “68% of charities in the Greater Worcester area consider transportation extremely important to the fulfillment of their mission. However, most of them do not provide transportation for the clients they serve”. See www.tasksfortransit.org. It’s easy to donate by PayPal or mail at the above website.

Thanks to the Lily Foundation and the Duke Divinity School for enabling this project. I think this $20 donation will enable the purchase of about 9 all day bus passes.

Brian Cline

We received 4 envelopes totaling $105 in donations. We asked the children how they wanted to spend the money to help others and they came up with feeding hungry people (likely because we tell them to eat their dinner as others don’t have enough food to eat). However, while we were researching local food banks to donate the funds to, we received an urgent plea from a very good friend named Mike Pimentel and his family. Mike had experienced a resurgence of some aggressive cancer that knocked him out of work and the family needed help. Mike himself is a man who has helped so many people and spreads kindness and love wherever he goes. We decided these funds needed to go to a cause a little closer to home and we used our Share the Love funds to donate to a GoFundMe campaign that was set up for Mike’s family. We later learned that the First Church Deacon’s Fund had made a donation to the Pimentel GoFundMe account – unrequested by us – and to a stranger you all have never met. I can’t tell you what that means to our family. This is just a wonderful community and we’re so a happy to share the love with you.

Bob & Jen Caron

Three out of four of us Jordan’s attended this mass and we were all humbled and excited by the idea. We talked and brainstormed ways in which we could use our funds separately to help someone: buy food for the food pantry, buy personal items for Abby House or a homeless shelter were some ideas I remember being thrown out there. As many stated here, we have never thought so hard about what to do with such a minimal amount of money.

My personal feelings were that I wanted to make a local, and personal impact on someone, but nothing personal enough for me was coming up. The pondering continued to eat away at me for quite sometime, I hate to admit but much longer than the three week time limit. Unfortunately during this long pondering time, my aging dog decided that he wanted to eat the donation money. He didn’t eat all of it, but he chewed the top off of a $10 bill, and a $20 bill. Due to this unfortunate situation, and that now I would need to go to the bank and exchange the chewed money for new bills, the money sat in a drawer a little longer. Until one day the opportunity I was looking for came up.

I recently learned that a local young mother of three was in the fight of her life with breast cancer. It broke my heart that a vibrant, beautiful mother would have to go through this. It was then that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my funds. After speaking with everyone in the family, we decided to pool our donation money, plus add in some of our own to give to her donation page.

I like to think that things happen for a reason, and to me this was God’s way of telling me they do. He wanted me to hold onto this money (and apparently allow my dog a tasty treat), then he finally presented me with the perfect opportunity to help out a local friend in a personal way. Thank you First Church for the opportunity to spread the love.

The Jordan Family