I was reading an article in our local paper today about how our Senior Services was in desperate need of donations this year for the elderly residents they serve. The paper stated “today’s economic troubles” were the cause for donations being low. The economy is bad and there are a lot of people struggling, but this sentence made me really think of the irony of the recent lottery that ended up being over $550 million dollars.
We can’t afford to give or help others, but we can afford to buy $10 or $20 in lottery tickets. Enough people bought enough tickets for that jackpot to go up to $550 million dollars.
$550 million dollars. That is a lot of money. That would have been enough money to give 5,500,000 people $1000 each to help with paying the mortgage, buying Christmas presents for their kids or enough groceries for several months. That would be enough to give EVERY family of 4 in the state of Texas $1000 just as an example. (*Estimating 4 people per family, state population statistics via US Census Bureau July 2011)
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not judging or condemning anyone who bought or who buys lottery tickets. I totally get the appeal of the it and hey it’s just $5, $10 or $20 that you are spending for a chance to win right? I have bought lottery tickets twice (though not in several years). My point is to get us to think about the bigger picture and to reconsider our values and priorities in this country.
Just think of all the millions of Americans who could have gotten a little help, a little relief and a lot of blessings if we had distributed all that money out to those in need around us instead of buying lottery tickets for a few people to win large amounts of money. Think of all the victims of the recent storms, hurricanes and wildfires. Or those elderly people right here in my own community who are only asking for things like a nice suit to own so they can be buried in something nice when they pass away or firewood to keep them warm for the winter.
Before you purchase your next lottery ticket (or any not really necessary to live item), think about how that $10, $20 or $100 (or even more) could be used to help someone else. $10 can buy 3 fleece blankets ($3 each at many of the discount stores) to donate to the homeless shelter or local nursing home. $10 could be used to buy 10 $1 toys at the dollar stores to donate to Toys for Tots. $20 could be used to buy 15-20 cans of food to donate to your local food pantry. $20 could be used to fill up a Salvation Army Stocking or Operation Christmas Child shoe box with toys for a child. $100 could be given to a family in your church or child’s school to help purchase clothing, toys or a meal this Christmas.
It doesn’t take much to make a difference in the lives of others. There are hurting, needing, broken, hopeless people all around us, right in our own communities. Let’s get our priorities where they need to be in our own lives, then our communities and then our nation will follow. Change begins with one person choosing to make a difference. I’m choosing to make a difference and I hope you will too.