Yesterday, my eyes were opened to the generosity that exists in the Myrtle Beach area. I spent the afternoon at Sam’s Club volunteering for the Knights of Columbus. We were doing one of our charity drives to raise money for Columbus Hope, a non-profit that assists individuals with intellectual disabilities and special needs in South Carolina.
Standing outside the Sam’s entrance, we handed out Tootsie Rolls and collected donations. It is a simple operation but one that has familiarity. My guess is that most of my readers have seen gentlemen in yellow vests with red lettering at the entrance of grocery stores. Well, that was me yesterday.
But it definitely wasn’t just me. In fact, it was barely me. My other Knights of Columbus brothers made it possible for our council (#5086) to have a presence at the store’s entrance the entire weekend, many of them taking multiple shifts. Although I only took one shift, it was enough for me to observe the kindness of my fellow citizens.
The amount of people who would start digging into their purses or wallets upon getting a glimpse of our vests from halfway deep in the parking lot was pretty cool. The numerous times I saw parents exemplify giving by feeding their young children bills to put in our buckets also resonated with me. The man who was obviously down on his luck and just passing by the store who still stopped to give us his only pennies drew direct comparison to the poor widow of the Gospel.
The folks who would quietly drop big bills in our buckets without even taking a Tootsie Roll left an impression. Same with the folks who would walk in cashless only to return to the entrance to give us a donation after getting cashback. And I can’t forget about the people who would lobby their spouses or friends to give as well.
Observing the generosity of others is inspiring and gratifying. Another benefit of volunteering is working with incredible people. Since I joined the Knights of Columbus, I have had the pleasure of meeting some selfless and motivated Catholic brothers.
I could go on and on about some of these men, but let me just use my shift partner from yesterday as an example. John Kost will turn 90 in June but he manned the other side of the entrance with me for two hours in the hot afternoon sun. He brought in more money than I did and charmed everyone who approached us. An Air Force veteran who has lived through a lot, it was such a pleasure to speak with him and learn about his experiences and love for the Church. I want to be like him when (if) I get to that age.
The perspective gained by serving the community is invaluable. I need to do a better job of doing it more. Thanks to organizations like the Knights of Columbus and people like John, I have no excuse not to. Don’t Blink.