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Some of the best for the money have come from the church’s youngest members, church officials said. Seen here is a Sunday school student purchasing supplies and toiletries to be distributed at a homeless shelter. (Supplied photos)

Some of the best for the money have come from the church’s youngest members, church officials said. Seen here is a Sunday school student purchasing supplies and toiletries to be distributed at a homeless shelter. (Supplied photos)

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Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd gives parishioners $100 to share

By Kelly White

A local church is helping others during the financially difficult holiday season.

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 7800 W. McCarthy Road, Palos Heights, gave a $100 bill to every attendee at worship services and Sunday school on Sunday, December 12. The money came along with a letter asking that the money be used to share God’s love in whatever way the recipient chose.

It did not matter if they were a regular parishioner, a visitor or child.

“We are so thankful to have been given this wonderful opportunity to share,” parishioner Marsha Rauch, of Blue Island, said.

Senior Pastor Chris Burech said the $24,500 that was given out that day came from a variety of donations, including a gift from St. Philip in Blue Island prior to its closure and several unexpected gifts to the church from dedicated parishioners during the holiday.

“Our congregation is very invested in helping others through missions,” Burech said. “That’s why we allocate one-third of our operating budget to missions and do many other projects over the year. When we received several generous donations, our church council felt it appropriate to pass it along through missions and this idea formed as we wanted to involve the whole congregation in this effort of experiencing and sharing the joy of Jesus.”

Each year, one-third the church’s operating expenses add up to $180,000. These funds go towards mission projects. In addition, the church and its members build a home for Habitat for Humanity, collect Christmas gifts for foster children, clothes for a local clothing shelter and food for the Palos Food Pantry.

“I feel the greatest benefit is for people to be involved in God’s work,” Burech said. “What we have, these blessings from God, come with a responsibility to invest them in a manner consistent with scripture and the teachings of Jesus. I hope this initiative helps remind us all of the blessings we share, the responsibility that they bring and the joy that is found as we take part in God’s gracious work in our world.”

Some of the things parishioners decided to use the money on were: six bags of toiletries, necessities and some fun things to be distributed at a homeless shelter by a student; a family passed theirs on to their paper deliverer who is a Vietnam vet and takes care of his wife who has health conditions; purchasing toys for toy drives; getting food for the local food pantry; supporting co-workers/friends/family who have had a rough time; leaving a generous tip for a food service worker; and sending it to help in the recovery from the recent tornados in the Midwest and Southern states.

“My family received a total of $300 to help spread the joy of Christmas,” parishioner Sara Nicholson, of Homer Glen, said. “When Pastor Chris was speaking of this mission, I knew immediately just how my family was going to help share the joy of Christmas with others.”

Nicholson works at Oak Lawn Community High School and every year, the school hosts a program called Operation Santa Claus to help Oak Lawn families in need have a wonderful holiday season. This year, there were 14 families to buy for and all of the families have a student who currently attends the high school.

“My family used the $300 to purchase 14 gifts off the family wish lists,” Nicholson said. “The gifts included toys, wireless earbuds, dinnerware, bedding, socks, winter accessories, and clothes. I donated the leftover money to the spare change collection jar I hosted in my classroom. The spare change jars are used to buy wrapping paper and supplies, and other gifts not purchased for the families.”

This was the first time the church held this initiative.

“I appreciated it for several reasons,” Burech said. “First, the project was true to the identity and characteristics of generosity that are unique to Good Shepherd. It’s part of how they choose to serve God and love their neighbor. Second, I loved how it included everyone, inviting imagination and creativity. Lastly, I’m so thankful for this initiative clearing being in line with God’s call to love our neighbor with the blessings we have received.

Some of the best for the money have come from the church’s youngest members, church officials said.

“It’s really sparked imagination of how we can use whatever we have to share God’s love,” he said. “So often we get caught up on what divides us when the call to love God and love others gets obscured by qualifications. I feel this initiative reminds us to spend more energy on what Jesus clearly teaches, ‘love one another as I have loved you’.”

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