Benevolence Story: Gail Cilladi of Fairview

When Brian presented the concept, I was excited about watching for an opportunity to help someone that would not be expecting it. I try to be a good person, offering help to friends and family when a need presents. But this was different somehow...I hoped to really make someone's day. I prayed every day after the envelope with $40 was given to us that God would put someone in my path that I could bestow this gift on. I only had one meal out over the next day or so. As my friend and I chatted with the waitress, she was happy to be done with her shopping and happy that Christmas was only a week away. Nope, that's not the person for this $40, I thought. It should be someone not quite so happy. Christmas shopping really dwindled our cash on hand. Sitting in the drive thru at McDonald's a couple days later, I considered buying my lunch, which had come to a whopping $2.11, out of the $40 since I didn't have any other cash in my purse. Nope, that money was special - not to be used and replaced. So out came the debit card. My husband Lou and I debated over some opportunities. How about that girl you work with, you know, the one you donated for a utility bill to be paid? No, no, she's in better straights now. Though I admit I was glad he was struggling with finding that opportunity to help someone as well. That's not the place, I assured him. I talked about the project to others as well. My long term best friend, my hairdresser. As each of the 10 days passed I kept praying for that opportunity. I started to internalize the fact that I simply was not finding that somebody that I could help. Maybe I just don't know any truly needy people, I thought. Even though I obviously do, I just didn't know any that I felt this gift would really be of much help, not so much the money but the offer of coming to McLane for Christmas Eve. Okay, maybe I'm not paying enough attention to those around me, I thought. Maybe I need to get out of my comfort zone more. After a couple of Christmas shopping stops this past weekend, I found myself eavesdropping on shoppers' conversations, hoping to hear them complaining money was short, can't afford this, etc. After a couple of strange looks from a woman shopping with her kids, I realized I probably looked like a stalker. The next couple of days were a whirlwind of getting everything ready for Christmas Eve, which is when we do our dinner and gifts with the kids and grand kids. We all attended the 3:00 Christmas Eve service together, which was wonderful as it always is. When the offering was passed I second guessed myself and didn't give the $40 back. I just felt a couple more days would allow me to find that opportunity to give it away. Tonight my granddaughter's mom picked her up from our house after work in the middle of a blizzard to take her back home. Her mom seemed sad, so I asked her to come in and talk a bit. She's been struggling as a working mom with 2 girls pretty much on her own, not asking anyone for help. She reminds me a lot of myself at her age. I felt this overwhelming pull to the envelope in my purse. She's been to our church with us as a family, I know she's a Christian already, is this really what I'm to do with this $40? I just felt it was right, so I gave her the card, explained what the project was about and gave her the $40. She started to cry, and hugged me with all her might. She went on to talk about how hard its been to do everything on her own, and thanked me for the reminder that she's not "on her own". Maybe I didn't bring someone to Christ, or even to McLane Church ever again. But she was smiling when she left, reminded that none of us ever have to be all "on our own". Thank you Jesus.