As the days are getting shorter and temperatures are dropping, I expect my kids to come home from school with the sniffles. All it takes is one child in a room full of thirty to sneeze on a hand, touch a doorknob, drool on a toy, or stick fingers where they have no business going to spread germs that ultimately find their way home and require me to take a sick day. (The other night my children kept me up as my daughter suffered through a stuffy head as my son coughed with such fury it could be measured on the Richter scale. How do I feel today? Don’t ask)
But I’m lucky. I have health insurance. I can afford over the counter cold medicine. And my job allows the flexibility to take a sick day now and then. Not everyone is so fortunate.
A month ago at church we had a guest from one of our local school districts describing a need that seemed trivial on the surface, but has significant impact. Her schools represent an underprivileged demographic in our community, so you would expect the need to be school supplies, classroom volunteers, etc. Instead she expressed a single need: tissue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 22 million sick days will be taken this year due to the common cold. That’s one day for every other student in America. For an impoverished community, missing school means missing at least one if not two meals, missing being inside with heat during the winter and air conditioning in the fall and spring, having running water if that only means a toilet and sink, and most importantly receiving an education to help raise them out of their socioeconomics.
So my congregation set out on “Operation Bless You” where we took donations of boxes of tissue. Donations of winter coats, backpacks, etc can cost tens to hundreds of dollars. A box of Kleenex at Wal-Mart costs a little more than a buck. Our goal was 1000 boxes. I think we blew that out the first week. I haven’t heard a final number, but even after a couple of deliveries I think we have more tissue than we know what to do with!
.140 millimeters is all it takes to stop a sneeze. This comes to 42 millimeters total in a box (for single-ply laid flat). It isn’t much, but it goes to show that every little bit adds up. .140 millimeters can prevent the common cold. .140 millimeters can keep a child in school one more day where there basic needs can be met.
No effort so small goes unnoticed. Any little act can have big impact. No need is too trivial to meet.
‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’