Warren Buffet and Bill Gates could write checks all day long and never match the size of the donations I want to tell you about. I work with a group of volunteers called the Habitat For Humanity Road Trip Crazies. We gather from a dozen or so states two or three times a year in small communities on the east coast. We help plan, organize and direct old fashioned barn raisings that we call Blitz Builds. Our mission is to help the community stir up some excitement for Habitat For Humanity with these Blitz Build Projects.
We refer to our efforts as helping people "Feel The Feeling." We are convinced that almost everyone wants to make a difference and to experience how it feels to help someone in need of a hand. Often the only thing keeping people from action is that first step. When people are confident or comfortable enough to take that first step, lives change. We try to help make the first step easy and fun. When hundreds of people gather together and let their hearts tell their hands what to do, it is virtually impossible not "Feel The Feeling." It's hard to describe but you will know when you have felt it.
No matter where we travel to help with Blitz Builds we find a special story that changes lives and makes hearts grow. Some times it's about the family buying the home. Sometimes it's about the town's passion and compassion. Sometimes it's about the volunteers helping with the build. I need to share two stories about people who donated money to help cover the expenses of two of the homes the Road Trip Crazies helped build.
Both of these magical moments took place in small towns in Virginia. The first involved a young businessman who was asked if he would consider sponsoring a lunch to feed the huge crowd of volunteers expected on the first day of the Blitz with a $500.00 donation. He asked if he could do more and offered to donate $5,000.00 to help sponsor the construction. He then said, "I grew up in a Habitat Home." It doesn't get much better. That's why you see the bumper stickers that say, "Habitat For Humanity, It Works".
The second story involves a home being built with and bought by a woman, her 20 year old daughter and her 12 year old son, Jacob. Jacob was born with a variety of special challenges and this new home was designed to meet his special needs. He couldn't walk and had limited motor skills in his arms and hands. He couldn't talk but had a smile that said it all for most of us. One of the special education teachers in his elementary school was having students collect bottled water for the volunteers to drink during the Blitz Build. The students who were able to donated water and the school learned a little bit about Habitat For Humanity at the same time. The biggest donation was received when an 11 year old girl approached this teacher in the hall and said, "I want to help build Jacob's house." She then opened her small book bag and rummaged through all her important belongings and supplies. She pulled out four pennies and gave them to the teacher. She said, "Wait, I think I have another one." She found the fifth penny and gave it to the teacher. She has no idea how many hearts that she affected as the story was repeated on the job site during the Blitz Build. Even this young child was able to change the world.
The size of a donation is not always measured by the number of zeros to the right of the first number. Sometimes the size is measured by where it comes from and what it does for our hearts. I may never see a donation that is larger than the lunch request that turned into a $5,000 check or the 5 cents that came out of that book bag.
With that said, I want to make one thing clear to Warren and Bill. Your checks with multiple zeros to the right of the first number would still be graciously accepted. We may be called the Road Trip Crazies but we're not stupid.