Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Hope Box

“Do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother… Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11).

Several years ago a few women and I went through a study called "Compassion By Command", a faith-based curriculum designed to mobilize Christians to reach out to the poor. The study takes participants deep into Scripture to better understand God’s heart for the poor and the responsibility that Christians have in helping those in poverty. At the end of the study, they challenge you to come up with your own "project" to reach out to those in poverty. In the midst of our brainstorming, one of the ideas we came up with was a box for people to keep in their cars with items for the homeless people we often encounter at stoplights here in San Diego. The idea didn't take off at the time but... fast forward to the Baldwin kids' fall intercession.

Three weeks of no school when most other schools are in session. Time to kill and time to fill. I told the kids about the original idea and they kind of took off with it. My brother, Matt, who is our pastor, often says, "You don't need a church program to love your neighbor". Well, we decided to just go for it, create a box and provide empty boxes to others at church so that they could do the same thing. We created a list of practical items to which homeless people often don't have access. We made trips to the 99 Cent Store and Big Lots and stocked up on items plus a few empty plastic containers. Emma dubbed the project, "Hope Box". They were excited about putting our Hope Box together and it was fun to browse the aisles deciding what to include and explaining why to the kids.

To prepare for introducing our Hope Boxes, we printed up a list with suggested items and taped them onto the inside of each plastic container. We then drew up a "pledge" that we wanted people to sign when they picked up their empty boxes. The pledge read:

I pledge to, through the Hope Box Project, participate in redeeming my city for God. By helping to practically provide for those who are in need, I pray God will use me as an instrument of healing and as a window to the gospel. I will not use this opportunity to build my pride or feel superior but will recognize my need and my poverty and choose to identify with and fellowship with those who live and breathe financial poverty. I will use the interactions with those in need as an opportunity to move beyond “doing a good deed” into building relationships. I pledge to replenish my Hope Box when it is empty, to speak with love and act with compassion.

We introduced the Hope Box last week. We are hoping that people will return with stories... stories of hope, stories of changes (especially changes in the hearts of those serving) and stories of the Gospel in action.

I encourage you to come up with your own ideas. Share them here! I want to hear all about them.

* Here is our suggested list of items (but by no means all inclusive):
Water Bottles
Beef jerky
Trail mix
Travel Toothbrushes w/ toothpaste
Granola Bars
Feminine Hygiene Products


Juicy Jenn said...

I am in LOVE with this idea! I think its is spot on and brilliant to read about...let alone do it. I'll be taking this to the hubby today for our family. LOVELY!

Juicy Jenn

Khara said...

What a great idea. All too often I see people I'd like to help, but I don't know how. This is a wonderful idea.

shell said...

love it love it love it! my mom does this, always keeps crackers in the car to hand out! i love your kids sweet hearts!