One way that teachers are showing children that giving can be fun is through the recent phenomenon of “cereal box dominoes.” Kelley Burmeier, a teacher at Emerson Elementary School in McAlester, Oklahoma, organized the cereal box challenge in her school. Her goal was to have the 10 classes at her school each bring 100 boxes of cereal to line up like dominoes through the school’s hallways, gymnasium, and other locations throughout the school. After knocking them down on March 7, which is National Cereal Day, they donated the cereal to their local food bank.
“We have a lot of underprivileged schools,” says Burmeier, “and some of their families go to the food banks so it’s a way to help our students and our community.”
The project is also an opportunity for the teachers to give a science lesson on the physics of the domino effect, as well as a competition—the class that brings the most boxes gets to have an ice cream party.
The trend is growing around the nation. Mae Richardson Elementary School in Central Point, Oregon set an unofficial Guinness World Record last year by setting up 6,877 boxes. That cereal was also donated to their local ACCESS Food Bank.
There is something immensely satisfying about giving, especially when the giver sees the tangible benefit of their gift. Percy Ross was a multi-millionaire who gave away his fortune to people in need on his daily newspaper column and radio show “Thanks A Million.” His motto was, “he who gives while he lives, knows where it goes.”
There is a biblical truth to that saying. Psalm 49:17 tells us that “you can’t take it with you,” and Isaiah 65:22 reveals the harsh truth that sometimes a person builds a house or plants a garden, but someone else receives the benefit when we pass away.
When the Israelites brought their freewill gifts to build the sanctuary in the wilderness, they brought plenty (Exodus 36:4-7). They could see their gifts literally woven into the fabric of the temple construction, and eventually Moses had to tell them “Don’t bring anymore gifts—we have more than enough!” There’s nothing like seeing results to increase giving!
There is an element of joy involved in seeing our contributions making a practical difference. Giving back to our communities—our towns, our schools, our congregations, our world community—pays personal dividends, both for today and for eternity.
Connecting: Think of a time you felt a sense of personal satisfaction when you saw the results of your efforts make a practical difference in the lives of others. Which was worth more to you—the value of the gift, or the contentment you received?
Sharing: Proverbs 27:23-27 appears to say that we should provide for our own needs first, before considering the needs of others. How do you interpret this?
- This passage assumes that you have already returned your tithes and given offerings before you start attending to your own needs
- This is wise counsel—if you grow your own business first, you’ll have more to share with others
- Percy Ross should have followed this guidance; by giving everything away, at some point he had nothing left to give
- A healthy, viable business blesses the community in more ways than just giving away money—it provides work for others and tax revenue that can benefit the whole area
- This is simply saying that we should provide for ourselves so that we can help others while avoiding being a burden ourselves
Applying: What fun activity can you think of to help children learn to appreciate the joy of giving? Compare notes with a group of friends or your study group, and see if you can actually implement your ideas in your local school or church’s children’s division.
~ Chuck Burkeen