Friday, November 29, 2013

Just like in your parish, the Giving Tree went up a couple of weeks ago, hung with a good number of tags. I'm notoriously bad about taking tags with the best intentions only to be scrambling last minute to deliver by the due date. I've learned to "play it safe," not trusting myself with too much responsibility. I have alot going on.

Hoodies are big. There's a children's home in Trenton that wants to give all its residents hoodies. I took a tag for one, bought two, thinking I'd surely find another tag to go along when I returned. To my disappointment, when I came to drop off, the tree was bare of tags! Every last one had been taken by a parishioner. What was I to do with the spare hoodie I'd bought? Take it back for a refund? How could I?

By that weekend, the tree was again full of tags! I was so relieved, so overjoyed that there was another opportunity to give. I scoured the tree for a tag to match a new hoodie and found one. Then I took a tag for toddler's clothes.

Shortly thereafter, I received a heartfelt, semi-mass email from a fellow parishioner. His reaction to the bare, then full again Giving Tree was the exact opposite of mine: he issued a "sincere plea" at the "overwhelming need." He was near tears at the simple requests: socks, a heating pad, gift cards to various stores. He reassured emphatically that the needs were all properly vetted (he's a Republican) and largely destined for local people (he's a Republican). He fought the impulse to run an ad in the local newspaper requesting outside help in meeting these needs! He suspected we'd taken on too much.

I replied to his email that our parish has historically responded very generously to people's needs and, while the demand may be greater this year, there's no reason to believe that we won't all step up.

But I couldn't get over our complete opposite reactions and am pleasantly smug that mine's the right one. Well I hope I am right about the outcome. Oh, that reminds me: I need to grab another tag.

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