An unexpected delay gave Kate Taliaferro the opportunity to ponder almsgiving and teach her children about practical ways to help others.
We don’t always know why plans get changed or why what we thought would happen turn out differently. Every so often, however, we get a glimpse of how God used our upended plans for His greater purposes.
I was driving with two of my daughters to an office that I thought was open. When we arrived, we were so excited to find a good, close parking spot as it was only 9 degrees outside. When we got to the door we were met with that disappointing notice on the door - it wasn’t open for another hour.
Trying to remain positive, we decided to go get coffee and a snack, transforming the now empty hour into a little impromptu date with Mommy. On our way, we passed by two statues in our downtown area. Both had brightly colored scarves on them. I noticed small, heart-shaped tags on them. A quick U-turn and semi-legal parking job had me out of the care to look closer and take a quick picture. A simple note stating, “Made with Love” was all that was attached to the scarves.
Upon getting back into the car, my daughters immediately asked what was up. I explained about the scarves and how generous it was of someone to take the time to make them and then set them out. It was bitterly cold and perhaps there was someone in need of extra warmth nearby. Our city has a visible homeless community, especially in certain parts of downtown. With the weather fluctuations this month, I could see how these scarves would be welcomed by anyone, homeless or not, caught unawares by a sudden temperature shift.
As we continued onto our coffee shop, we kept talking about these scarves. I mentioned how Jesus told His followers to pray, fast and give alms without blaring trumpets or drawing notice to our actions (see Matthew 6:2). Whoever made these scarves practiced Jesus’ teaching. They gave of their time, money and skill to bring warmth to whomever might need it. They did not ask for qualifications, to demonstrate a certain level of need or seek out candidates to receive their work. They freely gave without pageantry or any attention seeking.
Our conversation continued to other opportunities for giving alms in practical ways that aren’t just giving money. We had to use a parking meter later in the day. After explaining how one worked, I shared about how some people will fill up their parking meter past the time they plan to use it so as to pay for whomever might park there next. There are so many ways to give alms!
Had our original destination been open when we arrived we never would have had the opportunity to have this fruitful discussion. It has inspired me to look more closely at how I plan to give alms beyond increasing financial donations during Lent.
I do not mean to discount giving more financially this Lenten season. Projects like Operation Rice Bowl, Feeding America, the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, the list goes on, all need financial support. Lent is an excellent time to learn more about organizations in your area and to support them with additional funding beyond your regular giving. If you want to take your almsgiving in a more practical direction, here’s a starting list of ideas. It would be great to hear your family’s practices in the comments!
- Fill up a parking meter or two, especially if you know an event will be happening in the area
- Pay for the next person’s coffee
- Pay for the following person’s fast food order
- If you have the skills to knit or crochet, make a few scarves or hats to donate to a local homeless shelter. Or, like we experienced, find strategic places in your area to leave them with some kind of identification that they are free for whomever finds them
- If it is not your typical practice, withdraw a specific amount of money each week and be intentional about giving it away to anyone you encounter on the street or street corners asking for money
- Help restock a local food pantry
- Volunteer to cook a meal for your parish priest, a member of your parish who is homebound, or family that you know could use the extra help
Copyright 2022 Kate Taliaferro
Images: (top) Canva Pro; all others copyright 2022 Kate Taliaferro, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mom of 6. She has a Masters in Religious Education and tries to find God's presence in all parts of her day, be it cooking, cleaning or just the everyday ordinary. She enjoys homeschooling, stitching crafts and finding cheerios between the couch cushions. She blogs at Daily Graces.