The UN, the UUA and Empowering Women

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It’s unbelievable that in developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching age 18. Sexual Rights are the ability to make your own decisions about partners, privacy, and protection.

“Guided by our principles, Unitarian Universalists are called to advocate for international human rights;”

Reproductive health is access to healthcare, medication, and education, in order to ensure a healthy reproductive system and healthy pregnancies. In some countries there are numerous preventable diseases related to pregnancy and child-birth that women all over the world die from if they do not have access to the proper treatment.

“Guided by our principles, Unitarian Universalists are called to be a voice for the voiceless by promoting the inherent worth and dignity of all living things.”

Sexual health can be described as well being and safety on all levels in terms of sexuality. This can include protection from sexual illnesses and violence, as well as education on how to obtain this protection.

Why are you a UU?

Maybe it’s because some of your UUFP money supports the empowerment of women!

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In my  community, most people believe that women are not as logical as men are. This affects the choices you make in life—it tells you that some jobs are just not for you.

When  Ileana Crudu, now 19, finished high school in 2016, she had completed one year of training as a participant of GirlsGoIT, a UN Women-supported initiative

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RE NEWS

RE NEWS By Joanne Dingus

We covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We all know this as our first principle. In fact, it’s the one that most of us remember over all the others when asked, “what are our 7 principles?” So how do we live this principle?

Recently, many of you may have received a phone call from Carey Hall-Warner or Pam Luke asking your feelings about hanging banners on our building. I applaud them for putting in hours of volunteer time to do this survey. So far, it seems that most people are in favor of hanging the Standing on the Side of Love banner. For those who may not know what Standing on the Side of Love is, here is the history from the Standing on the Side of Love website. http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org/

The broad message, “standing on the side of love,” emerged as a rallying point for people of faith in 2004 in Massachusetts during their early efforts for fully inclusive marriage, and later during the effort to keep the marriage equality law and block Proposition 8, in California in 2008.

The Standing on the Side of Love campaign, born out of that slogan and song by Rev. Jason Shelton of the same name, was launched after the 2008 shooting at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, which was targeted because they are welcoming to LGBTQ people and have a liberal stance on many issues. The Knoxville community responded with an outpouring of love that inspired the leadership at the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) to launch our campaign in 2009, with the goal of harnessing love’s power to challenge exclusion, oppression, and violence based on sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, race, religion, or any other identity.

So far, the survey that the Social Justice Committee is doing has shown that there are concerns with us hanging the Black Lives Matter banner. People are concerned that hanging a Black Lives Matter banner might be dangerous. That it might evoke violent reactions from people in our community. Many would like us to have a Safety Policy fully in place before hanging a banner. The Policy Board is working on this policy but could use some help. Please speak to Sandy Burkes Campbell if you would like to volunteer.

I would very much like to see us stand with other UU congregations in our country and hang a Black Lives Matter banner on our building. I believe it is important to our children and youth to know that the adults in their community are willing to make this public statement based on our first principle.

To that end I share these words from the Standing on the Side of Love website:

To display the sign, Black Lives Matter, is an act of cultural resistance, of public witness. This action is a symbol of something larger, and a spiritual practice as well—focus, attention, and steadiness. The aim and desire is to keep the spotlight on the complex set of issues affecting Black people in this country, dating from slavery through to 2015. Not since the Civil Rights Era has there been such a sustained commitment to make broad change. Black Lives Matter is a statement about that renewed commitment, a vow to keep looking, watching, and struggling.” — Rev. Louise Green, Minister for Congregational Life, River Road UU Church, Bethesda MD

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BLACK LIVES MATTER BANNER IS VANDALIZED

  1. Alert your congregational leaders, UUA regional staff, and the UUA at pr@uua.org.
  2. Notify your local police.
  3. Communicate to the whole congregation.
  4. Identify a spokesperson and contact your local media.
  5. Order a new banner and plan a rededication ceremony that will include all of the congregation, youth, children, and friends.
  6. Invite community partners, other faith leaders, local elected officials, and the media.
  7. Hold a worship service about Black Lives Matter.
  8. Host a congregational in-gathering to process feelings about the vandalism and the racism it reflects, with mindfulness of the differing impacts on People of Color and white UUs [see resources for caucusing below].
  9. Share your story with Standing on the Side of Love at love@uua.org.
  10. Continue your faithful work in support of and within the Black Lives Matter movement.

I do hope that we will soon be able to get behind hanging this banner. But hanging banners is just a visual statement of our support. We also need to act on our beliefs.

And we have taken some beginning steps.

Walter Clark and I are working on reconnecting with the Boys and Girls Club to find ways to work and socialize with those families.

We have also made a connection with a neighborhood across Warwick Blvd., who are trying to do a neighborhood clean-up. Once they hear back from the city about resources for this, we will plan to offer help from the Fellowship.

I am also in conversation with a woman who would like to empower black men in our community through a project she created called L.I.T. It uses the tool of teaching time management to help people keep motivated and reach their goals.

As we continue to hear of more and more murders of innocent black people in this country, we know are first principle is being broken. As a community of faith, I believe we must do our part to make a difference. We teach our children through our words and actions. Let us be bold and stand on the side of love and let our neighbors know that Black Lives Matter here.

 

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Thank you, Doc Robin!

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What’s in it for us?

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Most of us “get” that our pledge payment pays the minister and the Director of Religious Education as well as our mortgage and utilities. You might call this the things that are for us.

But what about things that are not for us?

These are the things we can tell our friends when we want them to understand why they should be a UU.

We change the world.

The UUA is heavily invested in the United Nations which means that we’re heavily invested!

We have UUA staff devoted to consulting with UN leaders to influence policy on:

  • Human rights
  • Climate change
  • Anti-racism
  • Migration
  • Disarmament
  • Peace

Want more to tell your friends? Stay tuned!

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The Generosity of Community Threatre

Back in the 90’s I was doing community theatre in Austin, TX. For those of you unfamiliar, Austin has a similar vibe to Portland, OR, or at least it did in the mid 90’s. It was hipster before hipster has a label and the theatre in Austin reflected the proudly weird spirit of the city. Most of the community theatre was self-proclaimed “avant garde” or experimental. I distinctly remember an all-female version of Romeo & Juliet, a musical version of The Panopticon and a heavily pluralistic version of Godspell that included Buddah, Allah and a labyrinth that everyone was encouraged to walk at the end of the show. It was a really cool place to do theatre.

One show I was lucky enough to be involved with was called Flame Failure. The premise was that the book of ultimate knowledge had been found and it would grant the reader god-like intelligence. The person who found this book was a triple agent work for three different groups; a secret government agency, an organized crime syndicate and a fringe techno-cyber cult.  It had a cast of 24 people (with no more than 9 in one episode) all of which died by the end of the last show.

The story was told in one hour segments each month for an entire year. 2016-09-19-10-49-41This meant that every month a new set had to be built. One month it was a bookstore with tons of shelves and books, next month was a junkyard that needed a huge climbable trash heap in the middle. Some of the sets had balconies, some had ramps, one was basically a giant cage.

With all of the death in the shows, there was a lot of fighting which meant that fight choreography had to be designed and practiced and blood packs needed to be made. While the costumes were often based on street clothes, they usually needed to be altered in some way. There was one character who suffered severe burns to their face and so a latex mask had to be made. Each month there was a new light design which meant that the lights needed to be reset every month.

This was a huge production.

Flame Failure was the brainchild of a young man fresh out of college. He and a few of his friends moved from Pennsylvania to Austin and much like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney decided, “let’s put on a show!” However instead of singing and dancing there was fighting and blood packs. And they did it all with exactly zero dollars. Pretty neat trick, huh, pulling off a major undertaking with no seed capital. You might wonder how they were able to manage such a feat.

Simple, they really wanted to.

They did some work with local theatres in the area to establish some contacts. When those contacts were established, they asked if they could use some of the space that the company was using for storage to put on a show. It was an original script, so no royalties needed to be paid. When they needed props for the show, they would go dumpster diving to find what they needed. Any money they made from ticket sales was invested back into the show.

The first few episodes caught the attention of a few critics and soon people started to volunteer their services, wanting to be a part of such an ambitious project. A budding light designer volunteered his services and a few of the more well know actors in Austin asked if they could be in an episode. By closing night of the last episode the audience was packed with people, almost all of them having contributed to the show in some way.

If they would have used their heads, these young men from Pennsylvania should have never even attempted this show. If they would have laid out all of the things that they needed to produce the first few shows and added up the amount of time and money needed, they would have realized that this project was too much for a bunch of 20 somethings with no cash or connections.

But they didn’t use their heads, they used their hearts. Their love for this project was their first priority. The how came second.

There is a term that gets thrown around a lot in church administrator circles: Culture of Generosity. This is more than an attempt to get members to give more, it is a way of rethinking how we act in the world. Many people operate out of a culture of scarcity, basing what they can do by the assets they have. It’s a very safe approach, with only a moderate chance of failure. If the risk is too high it will not be acted upon, no matter how great the reward may be.

A Culture of Generosity is motivated by its goals and then asks what is needed to accomplish the goal. Assets are a means of accomplishing a goal, they do not dictate the goal. Generosity thinking is risky and failure happens. However, failure does not stop the dream in a culture of generosity, they are part of the process, teaching us how to better accomplish our dream. The dream is too powerful to be stymied by mistakes.

Flame Failure is a great example of a culture of generosity. A small core of people had a dream they were passionate about, so much so that they were willing to go through dumpsters to make it happen. Their passion inspired others around them to buy into the dream by not just watching the show, but by putting their own time, talents and treasure into it. At the end of the run, this show no longer belonged to the four young men who started it, but to the 50 -75 people who all invested in the dream in some way.

2016-09-17 14.36.03.jpg            Congregations talk a lot about money. How much is the budget this year? What programs are in dire need of funding? What percentages of pledges haven’t been turned in? These are all important question that help with the most basic of operations of the church, but what moves a church forward is not the budget, but the dream of the congregation. This Saturday, Bob Smith led a workshop and asked what they wanted for UUFP within 3 years. We have posted their dreams in the common area of the church. You are invited to add your dreams to the list (post-it notes will be provided so you can share).

2016-09-17 14.36.06.jpg Dream big UUFP! What is it you want for this congregation more than anything? A building that can seat 250? A solid mentorship relationship with the youth in Youngsmill and the Aqueduct? A large community hub that hosts a weekly dinner and offers adult education classes in topics from Humanist History to The Basics of Household Finance? The most important questions a congregation can ask itself are about its dreams, its vision and its calling. So dream big!

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Help wanted!

Autumn Goods and Services Auction

November 5 but your contributions are needed now.

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Need inspiration?

Check out last year’s offerings.

As soon as we get your contributions, we can start to produce the catalog! Please do it now.

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All Are Welcome

“All Are Welcome”

By Joanne Dingus

Over the years, I’ve tried to be aware of my tendency to make assumptions and judgments about people without even knowing them.

About a year and a half ago, Rev. Millard gave a sermon titled, “Black Lives Matter.” It was a powerful expression of the events at Ferguson, NYC and Cleveland. It could easily be given again today filled in with new names and places where violence towards people of color have occurred; Baton Rouge, St, Anthony and so on and so on. Andrew’s sermon raised up issues of justice, compassion and freedom from fear. He chose music like “We Shall Overcome,” and “Stand,” a folk song by Amy Carol Webb. I just saw Amy at SUUSI where she led worship, the UUA presidential candidate’s forum and performed her own music.

That day of the Black Lives Matter service, Andrew asked me to help lead the congregation in singing Amy’s song “Stand.” The chorus goes like this:

I will stand with you – Will you stand with me?
We will be the change that we hope to see.
In the name of love – in the name of peace,
Will you stand, will you stand with me?
Then, the verses go on to talk about when injustice raises up its fist, when pain and hatred churn up angry noise, and when broken hearts come knocking on our door, lost and hungry and so alone. And it invites us in the name of love and in the name of peace to stand up, to stand together.
I remember that day, the first service went smoothly. The words to “Stand” kept singing in my brain. We had coffee hour and then second service started and after telling a story to the children, I escorted them back to their classes for Religious Education. Since I had heard the sermon at 9:30, I stayed out in the common area and checked in on the classes periodically.

It was probably about half way through the service, when a middle-aged, white man entered the building carrying a medium-sized duffle bag. I had never seen him before. He seemed a little gruff, reminded me of Charles Bronson a bit but he was well dressed and seemed anxious to get into the service. Since the sermon had already started the greeter quickly ushered him into the sanctuary without the usual chit chat.

That’s when my internal alarm began to sound off, Danger, danger and the questions began to swirl around in my brain. Why did he have a bag with him? That seemed odd. And what was in it?

Now, I think one of the joys and one of the curses of a writer is being extraordinarily observant and having an over active imagination. I can go from, “that’s different” to “worst case scenario” in a matter of seconds.

At that moment, I immediately thought about the sign in front of our building. It said, “Black Lives Matter.” That phrase, even among our own church members had been controversial. “Don’t we believe that all lives matter?” Some had asked. I had often wished the statement had been Black Lives Matter, Too. That might have cleared things up from the start. Over a year and a half later, outside these walls many people are still angered by the message Black Lives Matter. The recent safe sanctuary space we created here at UUFP after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s deaths was met with opposition by some of our neighbors. They were unhappy that I had asked that white allies remain outside our sanctuary doors. We had two local news stations and a local minister contact us asking what we were doing!

But back to my story about the man carrying a bag into our sanctuary. At the time I wondered what this man was thinking, what did he think about black lives? Had he seen our sign that week, and decided to do something about it? And my real question was, did he have a gun in that bag? Was he like the man at the UU church in Knoxville a few years back who thought liberals should die? Or the fanatics in New Orleans church who invaded a Sunday morning service carrying anti-abortion signs?

I thought about all these things, but the biggest question in my mind was, what do I do now? My daughter was in there and my friends and my minister. My son and his classmates were in the kitchen area waiting for service to end. There were other children still in their classrooms and babies in the nursery. And soon, I needed to go back into the sanctuary to help sing that song again.

I could feel the adrenalin racing through me, choking me. And all these scenarios came into my head. I peeked through the window of the sanctuary door. My good friend sat in the row behind the man. It was Robert Drees. He’d have to jump him if something went wrong, I thought. Would a wooden pulpit be enough to shield Rev. Millard from a bullet? My daughter was in the front row. Should I go in there and whisper that I needed her to leave, now? Should I start warning everyone else in the other parts of the building that if they heard a gunshot, they should run for their lives?!

I paced back and forth behind the door peering at the man’s back. Then something happened, he slowly reached down and began to unzip the bag. What should I do? What should I do? My heart was pounding. I was in full panic mode ready to push through the doors and shout “Hit the deck!”

But it was a glasses case. He was just getting his glasses to read the words in the hymnal. Phew! I was relieved. And you would think that would have ended it. But you see, that fear had grabbed onto me so hard that I couldn’t shake it. I talked to some of the other people who were also in the common area. I’m not sure if it was to my relief or dismay but they were having similar anxiety. We tried to joke about it but you could feel the tension.

A couple more minutes of pacing went by and I knew I would have to go back in there to sing. I saw my son. And I went over to him and I said, “I know this is probably irrational but could you do me a favor and just sit in that room over there and not hang out by this door?”

The sermon ended, my cue to make my way to the pulpit. A target. I felt like an open target. Then I saw my daughter walk up front to the piano. Oh my God, I had forgotten that she had offered to turn pages for the pianist. Now she was a target, too, I thought.

The song began and I did my best to keep my voice from cracking. “Will you stand,” and not shoot me and not kill me or my daughter or anyone in this room “will you stand with me?” And I was looking straight at him and I mustered a smile.

The song ended and after the benediction, people began to file out of the room. I saw Rev. Millard go up to the man and talk with him briefly.

The soup social was set up and people started to line up for warm bowls of soup and good company. The man and his zipped up duffle bag left the building.

Once all was done for the day, I went up to my minister and told him my experience of the man and the fear and the frenzy I’d felt not knowing what to do. He told me he had noticed the man come in and had been watching him during service.

“You were talking to him afterwards. Did he enjoy the service?” I asked.

“He seemed to. But he was actually looking for money. I invited him to stay for lunch but he left.” Rev. Millard said.

That was when the real sense of relief came. Oh, he was just homeless. What a relief! After all, we’re a church. We get plenty of people asking for money.

And then it hit me, Just homeless? What a way to dismiss someone. Oh just a homeless man, like that was normal. The judgments, the assumptions. I had turned this man into a potential killer without even saying hello. And now he was “just homeless” to me.

“When broken hearts come knocking on our door, lost and hungry and so alone.” Where was my humanity now?

He hadn’t come to harm us. He had come to ask for our help. I thought about our sign once again. Beneath the words, “Black Lives Matter” and under the times of the services it said, “All are Welcome.”

I felt ashamed that I had let fear win that day.

We are a welcoming congregation. All those of good will are welcome to join us. We covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person. We share these gifts not only with ourselves but with the world. These words form who we are as a community. These statements connect us to our wider UU Faith. They support our theology, They’re in our music. Come, come whoever you are. Come as you are, all are welcome.

After that day, I spent a few weeks analyzing my fears and my truths. I asked the Policy Board to work on an emergency response plan and they set up a task force to do so.

The next time the man visited, I made a point to go up to him and say hello and shake his hand. And I felt better. Maybe I had regained a little of my humanity. Maybe I would not be so quick to judge and condemn in the future.

Then on June 17th, 2015 a mass shooting took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown CharlestonSouth Carolina. It was during a prayer service, that nine people were killed by a gunman, including the senior pastor, Clementa C. Pinckney. The morning after the attack, police arrested the suspect, a 21year-old white male named Dylann Roof, who confessed that he committed the shooting in hopes of igniting a race war.

As I reeled in anger over that tragedy, I felt my fears were realized and my truths were shot to hell.

So, here’s the big question. How do we keep our beliefs sacred and ourselves safe?

Rosa Parks said, “I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

So, that’s what the task force of the Policy Board has been working on. Knowing what must be done to keep us safe, to diminish our fear. They are committed to developing a plan to prepare us to face an emergency should one arise. They are including a Medical Plan,

Fire and Smoke Plan, Building Evacuation Plan, Intruder/Active Shooter Plan, Tornado and Severe Weather Plan, Flood Response Plan, Hazardous Materials Plan, Missing Child Plan,

Theft/Vandalism Plan, Cybersecurity Plan. The committee will share this plan with our congregation in the coming months.

 

At the end of my story I asked this question, “How do we keep our beliefs sacred and ourselves safe?” So let’s think about this.

As you know our first principle states that we covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  Rev. Victoria Weinstein in her sermon, Practicing Inherent Worth and Dignity: Keeping it Real with the First Principle asks, “What do we mean by “inherent?” she answers, “We mean that every human being is born with a value to them, that each life matters and that no one is born with more potential to inspire, heal or harm the world than any other.”

But what about someone like Dylann Roof who killed 9 innocent people in cold blood? Nine people who welcomed him into their circle of prayer.  Does he have worth and dignity? When asked a similar question about other people who committed atrocities, Rev. Weinstein gave this answer. “I believe that they, like every other person, were born with inherent, innate value and that they chose to violate the human covenant so egregiously that I consider them to have negative worth and no remaining dignity. To be a Unitarian Universalist does not mean that we are not allowed to make value judgments or that we have to affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every idea or behavior. Evil and badness do exist.  I don’t know if they’re genetically programmed or socially induced or brought about by frontal lobe damage or what, I just know – and so do you – that not all people have made good on that original worth they were born with.”

Our first reading, Guest House was meant as a metaphor but if we take it more literally we might ask ourselves have we created a guest house for strangers here at UUFP?

Ron Rolheiser writes, “There is a tradition within Christianity, strong in Scripture and in the early church but now sadly in danger of dying, of welcoming the stranger. In the early church there was a custom of welcoming strangers with the belief that they, being foreigners, were specially privileged in their capacity to bring new promise and fresh revelation from God. It was with this in mind that the author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote: “In welcoming strangers some of you have entertained angels without knowing it.” Thus, every family was encouraged to set aside a room in its house to serve as a guest room, a room within which strangers could be welcomed and hospitality shown to them.

So, our challenge is to create a culture of safety. I encourage the Policy Board’s task force to work diligently on completing this plan and to share this information with our congregation. We must be prepared, so that our UUFP home is not a place of fear but a place of sanctuary. We must know what must be done and do it. All of us can help by staying alert and paying attention to potential threat indicators and reporting potential risks.

We must keep our humanity, our own worth and dignity as we face our fears. We must create a guest house for the stranger that is safe for all of us. We must lift up the truth of this community, that is– All, those of good will, are welcome here.

 

 

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Adult RE

Adult RE Schedule

Saturday September 17 8:30 AM Leadership Seminar. Space is still available and walk ins are welcome.

Upcoming Adult Forums, open to all members friends and visitors!

Here is your chance to hear about a topic loosely related to one or more of the 7 principals of Unitarian Universalism and to participate in the resulting discussion.

9/18 9:30 AM Julian Padowicz Waltzing with the Muse: one writer’s take on the creative process.
Julian writes award winning books for adults and for children. He wrote an autobiographical series telling the story of how he and his mother escaped Poland just before the outbreak of World War II, a series of crime novels and novels for young people, most lately the Mrs Parsely book you may have caught a glimpse of at the fellowship!

9/25 11:15 AM Jennifer Rhu “Fear of Death”
There are so few places where we can talk frankly about the reality of death. Rev. Jennifer invites you to an open conversation about our worries and wonderings; hopes and aspirations for the end of life.

NOTE: As of 9/25 the Adult Forum will begin meeting at 11:15 AM in the office building, during second service.

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Pizza boxes, blood and saving lives

The events of September 11, 2001 were so traumatic and demoralizing, it helps if one can work on a life-affirming activity.

A lot of pepperoni and cheese gave their all last Sunday because you gave yours!

As Nan Procyson says, we hold the blood drive at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula as an annual event in remembrance of 9/11/2001. I have known people who have benefited from donated blood.  As each of us is part of society, we should work in the benefit of it.

The blood drive collected thirty-three pints of blood from you to save lives but that’s just a number.

One man traveled from Hampton by bus to join us. He seemed to be a non-native speaker of English, but we were able to communicate our appreciation.

The power of a Fellowship Circle! Nan Procyson (coordinator), Charlene Brown-Smith, Lin Chambers, Barbara Crossman, Larry Gaston,  Scott Kasmire, Lehni Lebert, Kathryn Özyurt, Hilary Probst and Parker Stokes.

Another woman was dedicated to donating on 9/11; she so was glad we were offering this opportunity.

This is truly outreach by the Fellowship.

 

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Sharing made simple

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Every Sunday you attend the Sunday Service or the Sunday Morning Forum, you have an opportunity to reach out. Every Sunday.

Whether it’s LINK or PORT or Planned Parenthood or Navigators. Maybe your sweet spot is feeding the homeless (St. Paul’s Friday) or making sure we care for our own (Parishioners’ Fund).

Having a $5 bill or $1 bill handy when the basket comes around is an easy way to reach out.

BONUS: it’s a invaluable lesson in sharing that you pass on to your children.

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