Have the audacity to come to the Back to School Bash for free things, especially shoes? 

Those were words uttered at the first Back to School Bash that brought some frustration to the design team. The mission of The Bash was to have an event that allowed an opportunity for children and their families to receive needed items to start school, including a free pair of tennis shoes, in a relaxed, non-threatening, festival like environment. Just as when Jesus fed the 5000 with a few loaves of bread and some fish, he didn’t ask for their W-2s, we’d decided that there would be no “qualifying of need” for people to attend The Bash. All would be welcome. 

Now perhaps that was when we thought there would be a maximum of 200 kids. But I’m confident even if we’d known it would be 1000 that first year, we would have chosen to do it all the same. 

Perhaps the BMW comment came out of the stress of the day . . . but nevertheless, it was made. 

It made our hair stand up on the back of our necks. And . . . perhaps out of my own level of exhaustion I didn’t handle my response as gracefully as I could. I “showed my teeth.” I knew we’d done the best we could. 

“How do you know the BMW isn’t paid for? How do you know it isn’t the one thing they were able to keep when the stock market crashed and they had to sell their home? How do you know the parents didn’t lose their jobs because of the chaos in the banking industry? Bottom line – how do you get to determine their need?” 

The conversation ended there.

This past year, nine years later, we were packing up the remaining shoes on the back of the trailer. We were exhausted. We’d been there forever and most of us were on the major “struggle bus.” A young woman approached me and took a bin out of my arms. “Here, let me carry that instead of you. It’s the least I can do.”

“I came to the very first Bash years ago . . . you remember? The one where we had to stand in line for like 2+ hours for a pair of shoes?” 

“Yes, I remember . . .” Thinking – how could I ever, ever forget???

“That changed me. That day . . even though it was 1000 degrees and there were so many people, the people who served me that day and gave my kids what they needed, that generosity changed me. I’ve volunteered for The Bash ever since and now I even make my family help too!” 

Generosity – radical generosity – changes things. 

How are you changed because of the generosity of the ultimate gift of Christmas?