When David walks into our shelter and empties his pockets, he puts a fistful of change into the bucket we use for monitoring what people bring in and out of our facility. The change is mostly bronze and I wonder why this man is carrying a lump of small change around. Our other staff member get’s to it first, “Why so many pennies Dave?”

He smiles and you can imagine him throwing his head back with a laugh towards the sky because that’s his demeanor. He’s somewhat of a character, always bowing before our staff, taking benign jabs at our expense, and ensuring that his cologne is nearby so that he smells “fresh”.

“A hundred pennies is a dollar! I always say that. Told that to my kids, too,” he smiles ear to ear as he talks, “I don’t see why people would just pass over them. They’re money! Doesn’t bother me though ‘cause it means more pennies for me.”

I reflect his contagious smile and nod in agreement. I am one of the offenders who won’t stoop to pick up a penny. His reasoning is sound, though. It is money. It adds up. It is an opportunity waiting for a willing soul.

David doesn’t skip over these opportunities and I leave the shelter wondering how many “pennies” I walk over every day. How many small moments do I pass by? How many words of kindness do I look past? How many smiles of encouragement do I leave on the sidewalk? How many opportunities to give of my time and resources do I ignore? These add up. The reasoning is sound.

I hope that we learn a simple lesson from David. There should be no moment too small that we would overlook it and consider it unworthy of our time. My guess is that a fistful of small change could amount to big change, we just have to be willing to stop, stoop down, and gather.

“We can do no great things, only small things done with great love.”
– Mother Teresa

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