By Bill Tolone
During the Lenten season, we sometimes think of "giving something up" as a way of self-discipline; a favorite food or drink or even, in this day and age, our favorite form of technology. But, we know that Lent means much more than this. Fasting and abstinence are meaningful expressions of sacrificing something and, yet, "giving of ourselves to others in need" can be a better way of making choices to help our sisters and brothers.
Scripture tells us (Matthew 25:35): "...for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me...." This is a well-known and often-quoted passage, but scripture holds many more admonitions to give of ourselves. For example, Isaiah (25:4) says "...you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat." And in Proverbs (31:20) a good wife is described as one who "opens her hands to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy." This is the kind of giving of ourselves which makes Lent a meaningful time for self-sacrifice and what we have done at Clare House for the past 35 years.
So, what can we do during Lent? While the annual food drive for Clare House is held prior to Thanksgiving, the need for providing food is year-round. Consider joining us as a Clare House volunteer and extend the Lenten season of giving of yourself. Volunteering means just that; not an obligation to do something every day or on a certain day each week. It means doing what you can within your other responsibilities to family, work and school. It can mean filling bags of food with us on either Wednesday evenings or Saturday mornings. Or, it can mean helping to distribute food on Wednesdays or Fridays at 1:00 p.m. Or, it can mean helping with the Loaves and Fishes lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays at St. Mary's Church in Bloomington. Or, writing thank-you notes to those who contribute food to Clare House. Or, organizing food-drives at your place of work or worship. Or, donating books to the Free Library in front of Clare House. Lots of ways to help our brothers and sisters in need.
Once you become a Clare House volunteer, you will realize that, while you are helping the less fortunate in our community, they are "giving" back to you in a much greater way.