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It’s easier to give, than to receive

January 3, 2014


“I feel bad taking this without paying for it,” said a young trucker accepting a cup of coffee and donut from the Lions Club “New Year’s Day Safety Rest Stop” along Interstate 81 near New Market, Va.

We assured him he didn’t need to feel badly, the goodies were all donated, and that Lions Clubs provide the service to keep drivers alert and spread cheer and good will on New Year’s Day–without accepting donations. We personally also enjoy chatting with folks, hearing where they’re traveling, trading travel war stories. One man was headed for 17 below zero weather in Toronto and was enjoying the warmish Virginia sunshine that day. Another woman had started out in Florida and was glad to have only 3 hours to finish her long trip.

DonutDayDaily News Record reporter and photographer join us waiting for “customers.”

Indeed it has always been one of my husband’s favorite Lions activities. One of his oft-told stories is about a couple who just couldn’t accept the food and drink until he told them he would just have to throw it away, so they might as well drink it. The couple just could not get that anyone would do this, free of charge.

P1040812Channel 3 interviewing Tim Land, 85

This year we had no more started our two hour shift when up popped not one but TWO media outlets trolling for a New Year’s Day “good news” story. We had not called or notified them. First a reporter and photographer from the Daily News Record in Harrisonburg showed up and posted this feel good story with only a few mistakes such as I DID NOT say I did it most every year; my husband usually does. (You can’t read the whole story online unless you are a subscriber but you can see their photos and captions in the link above.) Minutes later a reporter from local channel TV 3 hit our same spot and did an interview with a former “District Governor” from our club, Tim Land (above), but I’m not sure it ever made anyone’s telecast. I found this brief blurb on their website, here. Slow news day: any day free donuts make the paper, it is a good thing!

But I had to ponder why many people are so reluctant to accept something free? Perhaps it stems from the old fashioned term of not wanting to be “beholden”—or indebted to anyone. Related perhaps, is that people sometimes feel good when they step up and buy something being peddled by an organization—that they’re helping someone out. So when it turns out that they can’t help out afterall, and that the tables are turned and the Lions in this case are helping them out, they feel cheated, like the “good deed” has been jerked out from under them.

Most are fine with the free goods after learning why we’re doing it and happily enjoy the coffee, milk, soft drinks or donuts. Quite a few though skip the freebie: after all, they’ve just STOPPED for a potty break, right, and don’t want to stop again an hour down the road. I get that! Plus it is New Year’s Day, day of resolution not to indulge in things like random donuts.

P1040814My husband usually tells people they can just support the activities of their local Lions Club if they want to “pay back.” One young man from Louisiana said he didn’t think there were any clubs in his community and where would he find one to support? He was clearly trying to figure out how to pay back, so we just said he could pay it forward and do something kind for someone else. That seemed to help him. One head of a household, originally from Egypt said he was intrigued to run into this Lions Club as he had been a member in Egypt—(clubs are found in 208 countries or geographic areas). That felt like a wonderful connection.


Most of us do have trouble accepting what we call “charity,” or being grateful receivers. Like the free clothes closet my church operates, where the founding pastor (now pastor emeritus), Don Allen likes to remind us ,that the free items we give out there are a profound reminder of God’s grace so freely given. The clothes closet, and the coffee stop are two places you don’t need any money to partake.

A powerful reminder on the first day of a new year. As Matthew 10:8 says “Freely you have received, freely give.”

Have you ever tried to give something away that someone else had trouble receiving?


I also enjoyed a different kind of experience earlier this year when we were collecting donations for the Lions Clubs’ many projects helping those with sight and hearing difficulties. Read about my impressions of that day here.


From → Faith, Food

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    Although it is not quite the same situation as you are referring to, our experiences where my husband was so sick for over a year and a half in 2007 and 08 quickly came back to my mind .
    He was in the hospital for over a month and it was a long drive into the city from our home to the hospital.
    As I was not able to drive there myself, our church family rallied around me and arrangements were made that I was pick up every morning and someone was there at night to drive me home.
    People brought me meals and loved on us in many different ways all though that time.
    One of our sons came regularly to help me (He is a pastor) and I was telling him how hard it was to have so much being showered on us.
    His reply ” Mom, you have been at that church for over 30 years. You and dad have always been ready to give to everyone with no expectations in return!
    Now it is their turn to care for you and you must accept it graciously and just say thank you!
    It was a very humbling and learning experience and one we will never forget.

    • This is exactly the kind of receiving that is so very difficult–thanks for sharing. Your son hit it on the head. Bless you.

  2. Athanasia permalink

    We were travelling about 10, at least, years ago cross country and came upon a rest stop that was doing this. Was a nice and welcomed treat.

    • We ran into one in Ohio once too (not literally, but you know). I don’t have a problem with free food! And nice people to talk to. We were serving all nationalities, so that was fun too.

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