July-September is always a busy benevolence season. Children go back to school and extra expenses ensue.
Some people spend all of their flexible income on back to school supplies and clothes for their kids and then need help with necessities at the end of the month. Others are embarrassed to send their kids to school wearing clothes that don’t fit. Since no one wants to draw the ire of ruthless adolescents, they bravely ask churches for help.
We’ve helped a lot of people this year, and I’m going to write a series of vignettes about the stories I am able to share.
In July, I received a call from an individual I know through NHC’s partnership with a local nonprofit. Someone we trust, but who asked to remain nameless. He told me the story of a couple here in Central Oklahoma. Unable to conceive children, they’ve decided to foster toward adoption. With only three hours notice, this couple’s first placement was three siblings.
The state gives some money to help foster families out, but the costs were higher than the couple expected.
First, the couple didn’t expect to house three kids, but happily obliged in order to keep the siblings together. This meant they needed to purchase an extra bed frame and mattress.
Second, they didn’t plan on fostering older children. The kids came to them with barely any possessions, and only a couple changes of clothes. The couple owned clothes for the youngest child, but would need to purchase clothes for the older two.
Quickly the couple realized they weren’t able to keep up with the expenses on their own. Help was needed. They requested more assistance from the state, but were denied. Then they reached out to the nonprofit their friend worked at, but since they were both employed teachers, they didn’t qualify for assistance there either.
That’s when the final ball dropped. The kids needed to take summer school, and they would need tablets for the virtual learning portions of class. Where would the money come from?
That’s when our mutual acquaintance called me to ask if there was anyway NorthHaven could help.
I trusted him, and knew our church did, but I met with the couple anyway. They weren’t asking for much at all, but it was clear they needed a lot more than they were asking for.
Immediately, I gave them $1000 from the Pastor’s Discretion account. This account doesn’t come from the operating budget at all, but is 100% funded through specifically designated gifts. It’s there for exactly these kinds of things when quick action is need. I used that money to buy them a mattress, a bed frame, and give them a sizable gift card to the grocery story.
I was positive they needed more help than this though.
I also contacted our Missions Committee and asked to help the family buy the tablets and nice clothes for the older kids. Not only did the Missions Committee vote to allocate another $1000 from the Other Missions account (funded through your tithes) toward helping this foster family get everything they needed, but one person on the committee took the initiative to raise another few hundred dollars from NorthHaven members not on the committee and even offered to take the children shopping themselves.
These three foster kids are going through something no child should ever have to go through. We can’t change that for them, but we were able to ease their trauma ever so slightly. NorthHaven put clothes on their backs they aren’t ashamed of, tablets in their hands they can learn from, and a bed beneath them to rest in.
Every child deserves at least as much.
Jakob Topper, Senior Pastor
P.S. Because you asked: if you’re non-NorthHavener, I want to give away your money too 😉 I am 100% unashamed to ask for money when I can guarantee it goes to someone in real need. You can write “benevolence” or something like it in the notes section and by law we have to use it for that purpose. You can rest assured that it won’t go to me or toward any of the religious hocus pocus 😂