Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Blessings Multiplied

There is a program begun by the Episcopal Church Women (ECW) of the United States that dates back to the 1800s—the United Thank Offering. Members of the congregation are provided with a “little blue box,” a cardboard piggy bank with a slot in the top of it. As church members go about their day they drop a coin in the slot with a little prayer of thanksgiving for the common and uncommon blessings of daily life: a baby’s smile, rain after a period of drought, a raise or promotion, a healing conversation, etc. The monies are collected biannually and sent in to the United Thank Offering fund which supplies grants for ministries and programs throughout the Anglican Communion in the states and world wide. Examples of projects that have received funding are a program to create a video and facilitators’ guide to address bullying in the schools, renovation of an unused parish refectory into apartments for the homeless, purchase of a van that will be used to deliver food, medical care and other services to those too far from the city center to receive help any other way.

I love the elegant simplicity of this idea. It’s better than the gratitude journals that became popular a few years ago, because our gratitude is converted into action; it has a ripple effect that makes the whole world a better place. To acknowledge the gifts we receive from each other and from life daily is psychologically beneficial. It makes us happier, reduces our stress, makes us see all of life in a new, more positive light. But to stop there is a bit self-serving. The “little blue box” ensures that I not only feel good but that the joy ripples outward. I am no longer a passive receiver but an agent of good and a catalyst for happiness in other lives.

In my family we began a practice of setting the “little blue box” in the middle of the dinner table and a few coins beside each of our plates. In lieu of a prayer, we each announce the blessings we are aware of that day and drop our coins into the box. Listening to each other, we become aware of blessings we hadn’t thought of, and our gratitude increases yet again.

Whatever your religion, creed or beliefs, I invite you to establish a thanksgiving piggy bank of your own. When your box is full, convert the money into a check and send it to the charity of your choice. We who have so much can do so much more in this simple and lovely way.
To find out more about the United Thank Offering visit:


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