On Saturday, we held a garage and bake sale at Little Rock Martial Arts to raise funds for The Alabama Project. Our families donated their goods, volunteers helped set up and price the items the night before and at 7am the morning of the sale. From 8am until 4pm we sold donated items and baked goods. We worked hard and a lot of people got incredible bargains on some really good stuff.
We raised $400 for the project.
The next day I took my parents to Tunica, Mississippi to visit the casinos. The trip was at my Mom’s request to celebrate her 84th birthday. Because she is a “high roller” the meals and hotel rooms were free.
Mom won $980 in the first hour she was at the casino, Dad $400. Both of them came back from the trip with much more money than they had brought. I was very happy for them. They had a great time, and they used only money that they could afford to gamble with. They have purchased furniture, new flooring, even a used car with the proceeds of their gambling winnings over the years.
I couldn’t help but think about the contrast between how I spent Saturday at the Garage Sale, and Sunday at the casinos.
At the casinos, twenty dollar bills were shoved into slot machines mindlessly. The value of money was counted by chips on a table or credits on a slot machine or a paper voucher.
The twenty dollar bill that I put into a machine and played for three minutes and lost would have bought many bags of clothing at the garage sale.
At the end of the two days I spent in Tunica, I had “won” more money than I had gambled. I’d spent two days of my life in smoke filled casino by noise and people focused on pushing buttons in the pursuit of more winnings. I never had any personal interaction with anyone in the casinos except my parents and Frank. I ate food in buffets that was not good for me, or even tasty. I didn’t work out. I didn’t write in my journal. I didn’t read something that would make me think and grow.
During the course of the Garage Sale I got to know some of my students and parents better. I was touched and blessed by the many hours of volunteer work that were freely and cheerfully given for the project. I met new people, several of whom are starting classes with us this week. I talked to a man that is disabled and lived alone, and we were both smiling when he walked out our door. I met a grandmother and grandfather that were raising their three grandchildren and purchased four bags of clothing for eight dollars.
I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity to spend time with my parents. We had a lot of laughs. They had a good time. They deserve to spend their time the way they want at this stage of their life.
But the Garage Sale fed my soul. It made me feel like I made a positive difference for others. It allowed me the humbling experience of being on the receiving end of kindness from the volunteers that helped. It was a good use of my time.