The Story of our Love Offering

The story of our Love Boldly surprise on September 24th, 2017
Did you love boldly? Are you ready to share your story?

Your wonderful stories are still coming in but it is already clear South Church is Loving Boldly! The donations have reached far and wide. Monetary donations have been given to many hurricane relief funds as well as individuals working to support those efforts. Other organizations supporting social services, environmental causes, animal services, arts organizations, youth services, and veteran services received the Love Boldly donations as well.

Many shared their money with strangers that had become familiar faces on daily commutes to work. Some chose to match their gift and share it with family members, friends or neighbors in need. Check back often as we add to the stories below!

The South Church Staff:
The staff pooled our money to bake 16 loaves of pumpkin bread and place them in baskets filled with apples. We went out two-by-two to make the deliveries. We wanted to recognize the hard working staffs of our neighboring faith communities with a simple thank you. It felt like a simple yet powerful act of faith to reach out with fresh baked bread to say, “I see you” and “Thank you”.

I anonymously put my $10.00 into the school lunch fund of a new non-English speaking student in my school. He is on free and reduced lunch but the extra money will allow him to get treats in addition to lunch and breakfast. In talking with the English as a second language teacher about this, she decided to apply for a grant which will put $100 into his account which will give him treats for a long time. Most importantly, he won’t be embarrassed or told “no” when he goes to get a small treat for himself – just like the other kids.

Peter and Deb White:
We shared our $25 via www.kiva.com. This organization makes low/no interest micro loans to needy individuals and groups around the world. The recipients generally have ~99% payback rate. The lenders (us) could decide to take back their principal when the loan is repaid. However, another choice (which is what we will do) is to turn the loan repayment around and lend it out again. We feel this is a way to help individuals and small groups pull themselves up out of poverty and probably/hopefully help their local communities by providing at least a useful service and possibly jobs. By reloaning the money as it is repaid, we can keep doing this forever. The investigation to decide what organization to use and who to loan the money to was very gratifying. I asked several friends who have a lot of experience in 3rd world countries which were the best organizations to work with. This led to some really good discussions about both what the church was trying to do with this money and how micro loans worked.

Greta Abourjaily:
I shared my gift by giving my money to a homeless man. Every time I pass this specific spot on the road there a is man sitting in the same spot. I usually give him 5 dollars but this time I gave him 20. I received 10 dollars but i used 10 more dollars of my money to this man. He is such a nice person and I hope he can find a home soon. Giving my gift impacted me by reminding myself that I did something good today. I love helping others and I really think that nobody should ever go homeless. We feel great about giving back to an organization that cared for our father so lovingly.

Peggy Karns:
I matched the amount and gave it to the person at Healthy Hornets in Hancock, Maine who coordinates putting together over 30 backpacks and food items each Thursday to send home with elementary school kids. She was thrilled with the gift and the story of the Love Boldly initiative. She said she would pass it on.

The Hoenig Family:
We “adopted” a Pika! This was something we would not have otherwise done. The boys saw it in their Ranger Rick magazine, and they immediately knew! For awhile, Cody thought a Pika would actually be arriving in the mail! We also had some money left over and purchased a water purification kit for Oxfam to send where needed.

The Saniuk Family:
We chose to give our offering to the Children’s Center for Communication: Beverly School for the Deaf. Teachers from this school have been working with our niece/cousin since birth to help her communicate with the world. She is doing so well, we would like to share our gift to help more children. We were excited to be able to give to help children who are deaf or have difficulty hearing. The school is a wonderful resource for families in the area.

Trudy Hanes:
I gave my gift to the hurricane relief fund in Naples ( our other home town). I had not lived anywhere near a hurricane damaged area before now. The stories of destruction are really overwhelming. And so are the acts of kindness and generosity. Thank you South Church for helping to show support and caring to those in need.

Kristin Lummus & her daughter Hazel:
This story actually starts a year and a half ago when I was a new mom to my foster (now adopted) daughter Hazel and I wanted to move out of the city to raise her. My dream was to live in Andover, but I knew it was out of my price range, so I was focusing my search on the surrounding towns. After weeks of looking in North Andover and Tewksbury, a friend of mine found a little townhouse on Center street in Andover that was for rent for slightly more than what I could comfortably afford. When I went to look at the property, I met the owner and her husband . They compassionately agreed to reduce the rent to an amount I could more easily afford and to put a washer and dryer in the basement. Hazel and I have been happily living in Andover ever since and loving our new home and community.

A few months ago, the landlord called to tell me that she has stage 3 melanoma and she needs to sell the townhouse. She bought the townhouse ten years ago when she was a young, single mom herself and needed a home for her and her daughters. She said she would love to sell the home to me and my daughter and she would even work with me on the price and loan terms if necessary. Through the grace of God and good credit, I was able to secure a Mass Housing loan to buy the townhouse and (fingers crossed) we are closing soon. Last week, I learned that she will not be able to attend the closing because she will be stuck in the hospital for several more weeks due to a complication related to the cancer. This made me feel sad and scared for her and her three daughters. When I told my daughter that she is still sick and in the hospital, Hazel suggested bringing her a blanket, a book, and some flowers. This sweet thought was the inspiration for what we decided to do with our money from South Church. Our landlord/friend lives in Maine, so we can’t take her a care package very easily, but we can certainly mail one. Last night, with our church money in hand, we went to Target to pick out items to try to make her hospital stay more comfortable. We ultimately decided on a new pajama set, a pair of slipper socks, cucumber face wipes, a clipboard, some note cards, and Tina Fey’s book. Her youngest daughter turned 5 on Sunday. Hazel decided to use some of her money to buy a birthday present for her. She loves Pepa Pig, so Hazel picked out a Pepa Pig toy and a Pepa Pig Halloween book for her. This family deserve so much more, but it warms my heart to know that we were able to use this money to bring them a little comfort and joy during this difficult time. Thank you for making this possible!

Andi Larsen:
My story is about Joe, our neighborhood picker.  He comes in the early morning on trash days to look through everyone’s discards.  One day I was bringing our trash to the curb.  Joe was driving through, so I flagged him down to ask what kinds of things he collects. “ Metals and just about anything I can sell at the flea market”, he said.  He went on to tell me that he is a recovering alcoholic and since social security doesn’t provide enough to live on, he picks.   He takes metals to a selvage company and other odds and ends to a flea market.  He gave me his card and said to call if I want him to take a truck load.  So I did when we were emptying our attic.  He came, took lots of our stuff, helped us load a dumpster and returned a few days later to get more. I doubled my money and gave it to Joe.  Who knew that my Love Boldly money would bring a new friend into my life!

Alyson Shaw:
I doubled the value of my envelope and donated it to Liam’s Lunches of Love. Liam is a 10 year old in Cambridge who packs brown bag lunches and distributes them to the homeless on a weekly basis. Liam is the son of Sarah Spollet who many may remember growing up at South Church. Here is a link to the ABC news story about Liam’s Lunches of Love. I loved receiving the envelope and the surprise of opening it to reveal the amount given. It was fun to imaging the ways in which the money could be shared far and wide by a diverse population choosing their own way. Talking with Rachel about what happened at Church during the offering she reminded me of Liam. We had discussed this program only in passing and when she reminded me, I just knew I had to give the money to him.

Casey and Jasmine Russo:
A stranger – a Hispanic woman on the road with a cardboard sign –  was asking for help with food and money for her kids. My son waved her over and gave it to her. She was moved because my son gave the money, not me, the parent and my son was happy to do it.

The amount I donated to Americares.org Puerto Rico Disaster Relief was small but donating it reminded me that together we can improve/make a difference in the world.