News and Tribune

December 20, 2013

DODD: A Christmas blessing


— Fifty dollars really isn’t that much. I once wrote a story with a wealthy character in it that said, “Money is really only important to people who don’t have any.”

On Friday, Dec. 16, a group of my friends, some of whom I knew and some whom I had never met discovered a wonderful thing. Fifty dollars made each one of us who shared an idea very happy. What if you just walked up to a complete stranger and simply handed them $50 and wished them a “Merry Christmas.”

I guess one of the things most unexpected that happened in story after story I was told is just how hard it is to decide just who in a crowd will be the recipient. As the stories proved time after time, for some reason the end result proved just perfect to the giver and the recipient.

Chuck and Kay took several trips around the mall before a family of four with young parents and two very young children (who were seriously eyeing Santa Claus) caught their attention. As they were handed $50 and wished good tidings and Merry Christmas, the young mother asked, “Are you sure? Is this for real?” The father who seemed equally bewildered chimed in, “Thank you so much. This will truly help in our Christmas for the kids. I don’t know what to say.” As they left their presence disappearing into the crowd, Chuck and Kay heard both of them in the distance, “God bless both of you!”

Shawn and Debby are both medical professionals and each decided to share $50 with someone. They both decided to leave the group’s original meeting spot and traveled to Wal-Mart. She had it in her mind to find what looked like a single mom. A lady with one child in a shopping cart and one walking beside her caught her eye. A glance at her hand revealed no wedding ring. She kept walking and observed her husband handing someone a gift. It was at that time the lady she had first noticed crossed her path again. “I handed her the money and said, “God bless you.” The young mother glanced at the bill wide-eyed and said, “Are you sure? I managed to smile and said “yes.” She just responded, “God bless you. It took only a few moments and it felt wonderful.”

Shawn told me in his story how he had a couple of concerns after he agreed to join in the activity. What if they were insulted or felt like it was some kind of a scam or put on? His fears were put to rest when he spotted a younger woman interacting with a female in a wheelchair. As he relayed to me, “And yes, I just knew.” He approached them and said, “Merry Christmas.” The lady took the bill and what seemed like a long moment elapsed. She then had a quizzical look on her face and Shawn simply said, “God loves you and you” and smiled. Shawn knew what would happen next, made a hasty departure, and when he approached his wife with tears in his eyes, “She smiled at me and said she knew I would react that way. Yes, we both got more from this than the recipients did. It was truly a blessing for us.”

Brent and Linda also were a married couple who decided to each give a gift. First, they bought two teenage mothers in Subway dinner. They were shocked and very appreciative. Then Brent found out how hard it was to simply give $50 away. The first lady refused the offer stating that under no circumstances would she accept it. Then they observed two ladies working at a local fast food store in the mall. They were working very hard and seemed worn out. After treating the Subway ladies they handed the reminder of $40 to each of the workers.

“One lady thanked us over and over. The other stood there and cried. God had led us to these young people. I pray that our small offering helps them to see Christ in Christmas.”

Opal and George along with Bill shared a similar experience. It was a very cold and windy evening. There was a bell ringer for a bucket that kept singing Christmas carols and looked pretty cold. Upon first glance, it appeared to be the kind of person who might have needed the services they offered as much as those for whom he was working. When Bill approached, at first the man said he couldn’t accept a gift. As Opal recalled, she placed her gift in the apron where the bell ringer couldn’t have seen the amount. Opal wrote, “After the fact I can think of various places I’d like to do that and who says I can only do it once” I am not certain but feel like the same bell ringer might have been blessed twice in one night.

Becky approached a security guard who seemed to be taking her job very seriously. “I tapped her on the shoulder and said that I had a gift for her. I put the money in her hand. She said, “I cannot take that.” I told her I was blessed with much and wanted her to have it for making the mall a safer place to shop. Here eyes met mine and tears rolled down her cheeks. She hugged me and four others standing with me. She said a big, “Thank you.” And strolled down the hall way. As I watched her, her hands wiped the tears from her cheeks. I had received the blessing that I prayed for before going to the mall that evening; a prayer that I would be lead to the person who needed a blessing this Christmas.”

Next week I will conclude with a couple of more stories from $50 for 50 adventures. I also wish to the staff and especially our friend Julie who hosted about 20 of us at Logan’s Roadhouse. As you can tell from the stories so far, it was an evening spent with the kind of people with whom an evening is certainly very well spent.

Lindon Dodd is a freelance writer who can be reached at