No One Has Ever Become Poor by Giving

“No One Has Ever Become Poor by Giving” -Anne Frank

I think I learned generosity from my dad. Edna, my mom, would probably take the credit, but I think it was Dad who modeled it best. He was the guy who would pull over to give someone a ride. Loan people money without expecting anything in return. Give someone one of his cigarettes and then he would light it for them. That’s how I remember him. 

I think I picked up that quality from him. I feel like I can boast that I’m generous, but the words “boast” and “generous” probably shouldn’t be in the same sentence together. What may be more fitting is that I can say that I have been called generous a time or two in my life. However, not as generous as my friend Sharon Kahle.

Grab a cup of tea, hot or cold, sit back, and listen to this loving story about generosity in its kindest form. 

You may have heard me speak (write) about a cute Mayberry-like Midwest town called Western Springs. This sleepy little town is about 20 miles west of Chicago and is in the perfect location to reach either O’Hare or Midway airports in about 25 minutes. It was a very convenient, low-crime, peaceful place to raise our children. We lived there for seven years.

I am a believer in God, but wasn’t quite sure about religion until my late teens when my friend, Flo, gave me a gift of a Bible with my name imprinted on the cover. As she handed it to me she gave me the eye and said, “It’s about time you had some faith in your life!” And so it began.

My mom hated church. She was forced to go when she was a child and dropped out of Sunday school at the age of 13. She was done. She was always “done” with many things in her life. So because of her attitude to quit most everything, she never made me go to church either. But like I said, after Flo gave me that Bible I started to learn more about Christianity and all it had to offer me. 

At the age of 30 something, I was baptized for the first time in the church that was directly across from our home in Western Springs. In fact, our home once served as the parsonage to that very church. Once we moved in we became very involved. It seemed there were always cars parked at the church. We always knew something was going on because those cars lined the street in front of our house. Buying a home across from a church was maybe a “sign” of the abundant generosity that was to come my way.

It took us about a year before we became members and once we did, the kids and I were baptized. We felt like family there. We knew almost the entire congregation and they were all so kind. So I decided to give back. I signed up for what began my true love for being at that church: I cooked for all of the volunteers who helped with our bi-annual rummage sale. 

That rummage sale dominated my life—mentally and physically—for 3 full days twice a year. I would work all day while the kids were in school and when they got home I would take a short break from cooking/serving at the church. I would walk across the street to give them a snack and start them on their homework until Pete came home about an hour later. I would then go back to church and stay there until about 10 p.m. cleaning up. Geez, one year it got so overwhelming that I didn’t come home to Lex and her birthday cake until late after dinner. That year I was an awful mom. Sorry Lex! 

Here’s how it played out. 

Wednesday-Friday: Drop off. Anyone and everyone would clean out their homes to donate to the church. It was conveniently scheduled to be right before our largest-of-the-year garbage pick-up day, so what didn’t sell or couldn’t be donated elsewhere was put on the curb for the garbage truck. That was some good planning! 

Friday late afternoon: Volunteer preview. All of the volunteers got to preview all of the items before the public could enter the sale. Department heads were able to have first choice. There were a handful of those superiors and then there was a second tier which was me, the “queen of the kitchen”. I was thrilled every single year. It was the greatest shopping spree because everything was so inexpensive. To this day, I still have items that I treasure from those days of rummage. 

One year, I was perusing the women’s clothing rooms and I spied a fur coat. “OMGosh”, I thought to myself. “I don’t have a fur coat...yet” There wasn’t a price on it, but I knew it couldn’t be that expensive—it’s a church rummage sale!

I go back into the kitchen and I start talking about this beautiful fur coat that I have my eye on. See, strategically I want it known that I have my name on that coat. “I have been cooking and cleaning for you until I am blue in the face, so back off because it’s mine!” Well, that’s really Christian of me, isn’t it? 

Everyone talks while they’re eating. There’s always a story and lots of information to be learned at the dining table. So I’m not only blabbing about this coat, but I am also all ears listening for information. Not a peep from anyone about this coat. “Excellent" I almost think out loud. I finish cleaning the kitchen, only to go home at 10 p.m. to dream about this coat.

Saturday-Sunday: The sale begins! I get in early because, as you will remember, volunteers get in before the public. We have to shop and then get to our posts before the sale officially begins. 

Have you ever seen such a fool as me running through a church to get to the women’s department?! NO is the answer. 

I fly through the archway of a room that is really a more sacred part of the church used for meetings, but now all dressed up like Nordstrom. I announce, “I’m here for the fur coat!” 

You could have heard a pin drop! No kidding. The couple of volunteer women looked at me as if they needed to tell me someone had died. I said, “Oh no, what’s wrong?” One of them started telling me the story of what happened to the fur coat. By the end of the story, all of the air inside of me was squashed like a balloon with a pinhole in it. I was so incredibly bummed. 

Here’s How the Fur Coat Got, Then Didn’t Get, to the Rummage Sale

Dick and Margot Glenn (Sharon’s parents) were cleaning out their stuff, and Margot decided to donate her fur coat. It was put into a bag and off it went to the church on Thursday for the sale. Unbeknownst to me, while I was carefully listening to every word spoken in the kitchen on Friday night, Dick went back to the church to retrieve the coat. He thought it wasn’t right that Margot was donating it when it should have gone to his daughter, Sharon (who, incidentally, was moving to Whitefish, Montana the following week). 

Dick was wrong. Margot said so and Sharon agreed, plus she didn’t really want the fur coat anyway. Where this coat landed between Friday and the time Sharon got on the road with her husband and three sons to Montana is unknown to me. 

One Week After the Sale

Remember, we lived in a home across from the church, right? It was a beautiful old farmhouse with a wraparound front porch and two white rocking chairs at the front door. I would sit there with the kids for hours. 

So, about a week after the sale (the same day the Kahles moved from the Midwest to Big Sky Country), I looked out the window to my porch, and there was the fur coat on one of the white rocking chairs. Sharon had generously left it for me to love for the rest of its life. And you better believe that I have loved that thing with all my heart. 

I haven’t spoken to Sharon in quite some time, but I am grateful for our friendship while we lived in that cute little town years ago. And I am clearly grateful for her generosity in giving a goofy chick like me a treasured piece of her family that her father thought should go to her. Thank you Sharon for the great story and the generosity that you showed the entire town that day. Of course, everyone knows...because I told them.

I love that you were with me today. See you next week!  


Lisa A.K.A Loopie


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