By Bob Lupton I have discovered a universal truth. Universal. That means for all people for all time. It is this: everyone loves to find a bargain! Last Christmas season Peggy came home from a long day of Christmas shopping. She unpacked her bags and spread out her purchases across the living room couch and chairs for me to admire. Good purchases, they were. Fitting gifts for every family member. And then she declared with considerable pride: “…and I saved more than I spent!”
I’m not an economist so someone with a better grasp of high finance will have to explain the economics to me. But one thing I do know – Peggy was very excited about finding all these bargains. Finding bargains is a universal joy. So why do we think it is somehow a blessing to the poor to deprive them of this joy by giving them charitable gifts that deplete their dignity? Or why would we think it a favor to lavish a poor man’s children with presents that expose his impotence in front of his family? Where did such an idea ever originate? I understand the intent of angel-tree-type programs that provide Christmas gifts to the children of inmates and parents who have fallen on hard times. I understand, yes. The motives are good. They come from the heart. But surely, if we engage our minds as well as our hearts, we can come up with methods of giving that bring joy to struggling parents rather than emotional pain.
This is the very reason why we instituted our Christmas Pride for Parents promotion. It replaced our Adopt-a-Family program that had suburban families delivering presents to the homes of needy families. Once we saw the hurt in eyes of struggling parents as they watched others provide for their children, we knew we had to find a better way. Pride for Parents is about finding bargains! And that ignites joyfulness. Our South Atlanta Marketplace becomes a bustling toy store between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Generous people from all around the city have toy parties, go toy shopping with their kids, plan toy drives at their church or business and fill the store with an amazing array of bargains – from dolls to bicycles, board games to basketballs. Inner-city parents then experience the excitement of buying those special gifts that they know will delight their children – at wholesale prices and below! They can even place larger items in lay-away. And the proceeds? Well, some unemployed parents have no money at all for gifts so we are able to hire them to work in the store. That way everyone has money to shop for bargains. Some parents enter our retail training program and move out into the economic mainstream. Thus, the donations of toys become gifts that keep on giving all year long. What a child really needs, after all – even more than a Christmas toy – is an effective parent. Want to have fun this Christmas? Go bargain hunting. Then bring some of your treasures to the South Atlanta Marketplace. Share the delight of finding bargains with some families who could use a bit of added joy this season.