Academy Students Find $20 Can Give Joy

Teens from Auburn Adventist Academy accept a challenge to improve other people’s lives.

Academy Students Find $20 Can Give Joy

, North Pacific Gleaner

What would you do if someone gave you $20 with instructions to invest in a cause that enhances someone’s life?

Students at Auburn Adventist Academy in the U.S. state of Washington found the question puzzling — but several determined to find out.

The result: warm hats and gloves, sandwiches, balloons, and greeting cards for a mix of homeless people and hospital patients in the greater Seattle area.

“This experience was so much fun, and I loved seeing the faces on the people when we gave it to them,” said Jillian Hightower, a 12th-grade student.

Hightower teamed up with fellow 12th graders Stephanie Martinez and Jealeah Settlemier in search of a way to help people after academy chaplain Jeff Carlson presented a $20 challenge during Bible class.

Hightower said the experience changed her perspective on giving. She and her two classmates used their money to purchase 17 sandwiches for homeless people outside the public library near the academy campus. They also bought balloons and get-well cards to distribute to patients on the third floor of the local hospital.

Victor Moore, pictured with classmates Adrienne Reiswig, center, and Alicia Carlton, used their money to buy gloves, beanie hats, and takeout Mexican food.  Heidi Baumgartner / Gleaner

The $20 “I Like Giving” challenge is an initiative of the local Washington Conference’s stewardship department and based on the bestselling 2014 book, I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life by Brad Formsma. The book shares a series of stories about people who are changing the world by being generous in their personal interactions.

“We send our students to our schools not only for a good education, but also so that they will catch the joy of being with Jesus and living a life of service,” said Bruce Koch, stewardship director of the Washington Conference. “When students learn about service and sharing, they become contributors to the needs of the community. These academy students caught this spirit of generosity in this activity.”

Twelfth-grade student Victor Moore was impressed with a video about investing in other’s lives from that Auburn academy’s chaplain showed the Bible class. After class, he joined forces with classmates Adrienne Reiswig and Alicia Carlton to brainstorm on what cause they could invest in.

“We had a hard time deciding on what we should do with the $20,” Moore said. “All we knew was that we simply wanted to make someone’s day better. The world can be a very cynical place, so we felt like we should just bring a little optimism and happiness into someone’s life.”

In the end, they used half the money to purchase gloves and beanie hats for the homeless. With the rest, they bought takeout Mexican meals.

“We know it’s not much, but with it being the middle of winter we figured it would do them some good,” Moore said. “It was nice to see the look of surprised gladness on the people’s faces. We hope to continue to bring happiness to others, even in small ways, whenever we can.”