Matthew relates a parable that Jesus spoke to his followers. The king had made elaborate plans for his wedding feast but many of the invited guests begged off and made excuse not to come. So:
"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests."
Great story from two thousand years ago -- couldn't happen today but wait. I found an article by Omaha World Herald's Nancy Gaarder in a courtesy copy picked up at a hotel. I used to subscribe but quit reading the paper when they stiffed us and quit delivery to Western Nebraska.
Seems that an out-of-state family had paid for a wedding venue in Omaha's DC Centre banquet facility but had to cancel. The Centre's cancellation policy made the $2100 down payment non-refundable so the family asked that the donation be anonymously given to the Open Door Mission. So it was that 65 homeless men and women from the Mission recently enjoyed a "Wedding Feast" at table set with white linen and china. Grilled chicken breast and more with dessert choice of carrot cake or chocolate mousse cake plus plenty of laughter and smiles. Yes I hear Christ's message of charity and love for our fellow man echoing down through the ages.
Last week I wrote of the few at the head of our local government making financial decisions for the masses, i.e. the rest of us peon citizens. Local officials spending our tax money in ways that they think is good for us.
Yet there is a whole movement operating below the surface that is doing good things for the citizens of our fair city. Call it charity, call it good will or just call it good natured giving, no matter I think that Jesus would be proud.
The McCook Ministerial Association sponsors the local food pantry. There people in need are given food items to supplement their meager grocery budgets. This month the pantry is requesting donations of rice. Give through your church or give directly. Perishable or non-perishable food items are welcome.
The local Methodist Church serves a weekly Thursday evening supper, Feed The Flock, to any and all who wish to partake. No questions asked just come enjoy the company and eat on us. Other churches also take turns volunteering to cook, provide the ingredients and volunteering to help.
Barb Ostrum and her team of volunteers just finished her annual Coat Closet giveaway. No need for anyone in this area to have to brave the oncoming cold weather without a suitable jacket, some new most used but all free. It was Dr. Joe McGrath's idea years ago for those of us with extra to give to those in need of warm wraps to do the Coat Closet. This caring community has perpetuated the great event since.
The Shriners, a Masonic organization, has a long tradition of extending surgical and rehab help for crippled children. Service includes transportation to and from their Shrine Hospitals all at no cost to the patient or family.
I know that I have barely scratched the surface in recognizing how caring and sharing the people of this local area are in looking out for fellow humans in need. It is the churches, many other organizations and giving individuals that help make this a great place to live.
Now an update on a local charitable effort that touches my heart -- Grannie Annie's Adopt-A-Chaplain mission. Both she and I are amazed by the outpouring of generosity by local individuals who donate items and cash to her year around effort to send "care packages" to our troops deployed to combat hot spots around the world. The Adopt-A-Chaplain program is a 501c3 registered organization so all donations are tax deductible but that fact doesn't seem to matter to all you giving individuals. Grannie writes thank you notes to all known givers but many have slipped her a $100 bill or a $20 or a $10 or even the widow's mite and tell her "It doesn't matter!" when she asks for a name. Amazing generosity.
This and every Christmas season for the past seven years Grannie and her team of volunteer packers makes an extra effort to send boxes to "her" deployed Military Chaplains. This year some 50 of the Post Office's large flat rate boxes will go to each of two locations in Afghanistan, plus one in Columbia, S.A. Lesser numbers to a soldier in Kosovo, and to a few other individuals stationed in unpleasant locations. Her last mail out date is November 16 to insure arrival before Christmas so there is little time to waste.
In each box they tuck in a Christmas card or several with handwritten notes "To a soldier." All written by caring individuals and especially 4th and 5th graders from Central School. This summer Chaplain Dereck Riggs came to McCook to thank the community for our support in his recent yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. He commented, "When I hand one of your boxes to a soldier invariably they look up with gratitude in their eyes and reply, 'I haven't been forgotten!'"
You can be assured that all your generous donations go strictly to postage and contents for the boxes. All overhead expenses are absorbed by the lucky guy that has the pleasure of living with indefatigable Grannie Annie.
That is how I saw it.