Raise your hand if you read Stone Soup as a kid?
I was around seven or eight when I read it and remember being really miffed. I thought it was unfair and didn’t like it.
Stone Soup is a fable about hungry strangers who enter a town and tell everyone that they are making stone soup, but need a “few more” ingredients. The strangers really have nothing more than a pot, a stone and some boiling water. One by one, they con everyone into bringing the ingredients for soup. In the end, they’ve made a tasty feast for everyone.
I was very irritated that the strangers, who brought nothing, were able to enjoy the soup along with everyone else. Then someone told me the moral of the story:
Things are better when everyone shares.
This idea of sharing both generously and frequently is being played out in so many corners of the world.
Most recently, I witnessed it in real time. Last Saturday at “The Hub,” a little community center in Over the Rhine (traditionally one of Cincinnati’s poorest neighborhoods), a feast was held for fed a few hundred precious people.
Most Saturdays you’ll find lots of regular people (adults and kids) pouring into 150+ vulnerable youth. These are kids who (just like us) need to know how special they are. Some have one-on-one mentors, some come only on Saturdays. They all come under the banner of Saturday Hoops.
For 15 years, though, Saturday Hoops volunteers have interacted with thousands of awesome young people. If it weren’t for Hoops, the Hub might otherwise be empty on Saturdays.
A few loudmouthed swindlers have managed to fill it up for some time…
They convince a highly talented team to put aside their Saturday chore list in exchange for: crayons and coloring books, yoga, reading, playing basketball, doing planks, jumping rope, braiding hair, roller skating, dancing like a buffoon and running around being chased by a 6 year old girl – you get the idea.
These volunteers also bring their hearts: looking kids in the eye, honoring them while affirming their gifts and talents.
It’s the world’s greatest scam! But somehow, everyone leaves more “full” than when they arrived. Don’t ask me how it works, but on any given Saturday, if I spend any amount of time at Saturday Hoops, I feel better. It’s not because I have done anything great, but because I’ve connected with smart, playful and sometimes ornery young people who are always eager to receive affirmation and love. As much as I can give, they will receive.
“We cannot all do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” -Mother Theresa
Somewhere, someone is making Stone Soup. What can you add to the pot?
Do you have a chunk of meat in your freezer? Can you bring a loaf of bread? Are you the one tending the fire? Are you the big personality that mobilizes people? Do you have cash to purchase the megaphone? Are you an encourager? Can you help a person (a child or someone in need) get to the table over the long haul?
This time of year, when many of us are seeking ways to contribute, I humbly suggest that giving is not a season, but is a regular occurrence.
The opportunities are endless – they are right in front of us.
Make the time. Allow yourself to be duped. Give a little – or a little more.
Happy Thanksgiving and All the Best,
Here is a website to help you get started: www.google.com. 😉
If you need further inspiration, people who volunteer live longer and are generally happier.
Feel free to share this!
Alexia is an Executive Coach, helping leaders lead themselves and others in work and life.