A Call To Share Our Abundance

By Michelle Singletary
Sunday, March 15, 2009

At 66, Connie Neuman is doing okay financially. So when she found out a friend was out of work, she offered to send her $40 every month.

The friend, also 66, lost her long-established bookstore. Like so many other small businesses across the country, the store went out of business.

"I worked out my financial plan over the next three years," Neuman, a Maryland resident, said in an e-mail. "It appeared I could offer some support. It won't prevent a foreclosure, but it is a bag of oranges, a lunch, some bus fare or a gas-up."

Neuman's modest bailout wasn't a loan but what she called a "PIO," or pass-it-on offer. As it turns out, the friend, who lives in the Midwest, doesn't need the money because she found a job at another bookstore that pays less than when she ran her own business but still enough to get by.

"I told her just to let me know how things go," Neuman said. "I had planned to give her the $40 a month for two years if the economic crisis takes that long to sort out."

Neuman said she's still going to set aside the money in case somebody else needs the help.

While many people are carping and complaining about the federal initiatives created to try to keep people from losing their homes or jobs or health care, all across the country, there are others who are helping -- without judgment, without requiring that people prove they weren't irresponsible before being considered worthy of aid. These folks, although also frustrated about the economy and the people who pushed us into this crisis, are pulling money out of their own savings, taking relatives or strangers into their homes or creating programs to help the financially broken.

Geneva Pearson had an idea to help people save money during the downturn. Pearson, who attends my church, First Baptist Church of Glenarden, recently coordinated a household item exchange. Women brought in fine china, cutlery, top-of-the-line crystal, small appliances, bed linens, comforter sets, and lamps, not to sell but to pass on.

"Sisters also came in with floral arrangements, towels, fine art, photo frames and accessories, wall art, window shades and curtains," Pearson said. "There was even a chandelier and a brand new toilet seat. It was wonderful to hear ladies as they exclaimed about items being an answer to their prayer or 'just what I needed.' "

During the giveaway, one woman was presented with accessories for an entire living room, another got a needed queen-sized bed. Someone moving into her first apartment got a television.

"We historically have shared second-time-around clothing, food during the holidays, and coats during the cold months, but we hesitate to give up our good household stuff although we no longer use it," Pearson said.

I love what Pearson said about the event's vision. It was an opportunity for people to "share out of their abundance."

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