Several students put their “President Dollars” (story below) on Thirst Footwear, a shoe company started by Sam Winslow ’12 (third from left), which plans to supply one person in Africa with water for a year per each pair sold. From left: Julia Marra ’13, Bennett Shake ’13, Winslow, Naama Mendes ’13, Erica Bowers ’14 and Jhoselyn Galmadez ’15.
During a September Chapel service President Michael Lindsay challenged the Gordon student body to put into practice the Parable of the Talents (Matt. 25: 14–30). “Talents can mean skills and attributes and abilities,” he said, “and that’s all part of the blessing that you are asked to give to others. But a talent is also a unit of money; it also means our finances.” Referring to his inaugural address, Lindsay stressed the need to “elevate the contribution that we make to one another and to the world.”
As Lindsay spoke, ushers passed out envelopes. Each one contained a copy of the morning’s Scripture reading—and cash ranging from $1 to $100, gifts to the student body from his and Mrs. Lindsay’s own funds. He challenged students to put the parable of the talents into action, saying, “I want you to pray about this, to think strategically about it. I want to see ‘savvy grace’ happen.”
A week later, students were surveyed about what they did with the money. Many performed acts of simple kindness: “I placed my dollar on the dishes conveyer belt in Lane.” “I bought sunflowers and gave them away to people I didn’t know.” Some pooled their resources: “Our organic chemistry lab pooled all of our money together and donated to World Vision.”
“Our giving habits matter,” Lindsay wrote in a Huffington Post guest column, referring to the Gordon experiment. “Giving has a way of freeing us up. It breaks the gravitational pull of possessions and self-involvement. The ways we do or don’t spend these resources for the common good have a profound impact on our personal character, and on the character of our culture.
“What if today we realized what great potential is held in that dollar, that bright idea or that spare half-hour-—that talent we carry around-—and what if today we harnessed that potential to do something good?”
Student responses to the President's challenge:
Doing Well by Doing Good
Several students put their “President Dollars” on Thirst Footwear, a shoe company started by Sam Winslow ’12, which plans to supply one person in Africa with water for a year per each pair sold.
One student who received $1 decided to save it and add at least 25 cents per day (or whatever extra pocket change was on hand) until December 1, at which point, the student forecast, it should add up to just over $20. The student planned to use it to buy Christmas gifts for a child through the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree Program.
A Chinese student who received $1 matched it with another $1 and sent it to a Bible study teacher in China. The Gordon student asked the teacher to exchange the $2 for 12 yuan and distribute the money according to the number of teenagers who attended the Bible study that day, giving them the same challenge to put the parable of the talents into action. The next week, each teenager was to share how they spent the money. (One yuan is enough money to buy breakfast for two people in Yanji, the city in China that is the Gordon student’s home.)
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