20 Dec RACK: Loving Alexandria
This year is Calvary’s second annual promotion of the “RACK” campaign—Random Acts of Christmas Kindness. As we detailed in a blog post a few weeks ago, we started “RACK” as a way to engage our children in being a good neighbor—to family, strangers, people at school, or in their neighborhood. We offered ideas like baking cookies and taking them to the local fire station, raking leaves for an elderly neighbor, or pushing a neighbor’s garbage bin back to the house after the trash has been picked up. The idea was to do one’s random acts of kindness incognito, without recognition or praise.
The idea caught on not only with our kids, but also with many adults in the congregation. Last year one church member bought Starbucks gifts cards and handed them out to members of the military she saw in random places, like the drugstore. Someone else “paid it forward” for a stranger in the lunch line behind them. Regardless of the specific actions it inspires, the RACK campaign encourages us to be more aware of the small, everyday opportunities we each have to show kindness to others.
This year RACK has led us in a completely unexpected direction. As the kids were brainstorming ways to RACK people, one woman had the idea to contact the elementary school adjacent to our church, asking about unpaid lunch balances. Having no idea how large a sum this might be, she planned to invite members of one of Calvary’s Bible study groups to help her, if the sum proved more than one person could handle.
What she learned was that there was a significant need among some of the students, but it wasn’t related to unpaid lunch balances. Nine families had been identified by the school staff as being vulnerable to serious food shortages over the two-week winter break, when the students would not be in school to receive free lunches. This one member took that information to her Bible study group which then brought it to the monthly meeting of the church leadership which then communicated the need to the entire congregation. Based on government calculations for the average weekly cost to feed a family of four, we set a goal of $4,000, hoping to anonymously adopt all nine families.
Twenty-four hours later, more than $6,600 had been generously donated to this endeavor. We were stunned. We were delighted. We were grateful beyond measure. After further conversation with the school staff, the church member who began this thrilling enterprise purchased dozens of gift cards to a local grocery store within a mile’s walk or drive from where many of the school’s neediest students live. The gift cards were delivered yesterday, and inside each one was tucked a card that simply read, “You’ve been RACK’d! We hope this Random Act of Christmas Kindness makes you smile!”
I won’t know if the recipients of these gift cards end up smiling, but I can attest to a church full of smiles (and more than a few tears, as well) for the privilege of helping our neighbors. For all the times that the needs of the world feel so daunting, and we wonder what we can possibly do to make a difference, this chain of events reminded me of the power of simply doing what you can, where you can, when you can. Being kind matters. Noticing your neighbors matters. Following up on an idea matters, as does sharing it with friends and family. We can all do something kind for another person, and the collective impact of our “somethings” is more significant than we imagine.
Remember, it’s not too late. There’s still time to RACK someone this Christmas!