Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blue Light Special

The news is generally depressing. Every day it seems that another young female goes missing, another person commits suicide and someone else has been murdered in cold blood. If you are looking for a mood boost don't turn on the news.
To every rule there is an exception. This morning the news shocked me with a story that wasn't a downer in the least. Instead it was the kind of story that reaffirms the goodness of humanity, reminding viewers that for all that is wrong in the world there are people still doing good.
In Kentucky, a man named Rankin went to shop for some good deals on items for his business at a Kmart that was having a closeout sale. Within in a few days the store would go dark and the doors would close for good. As he shopped a thought dawned on him: "What will they do with all of this leftover merchandise when the closeout sale ends?" He asked a clerk who told him that it would be shipped to other Kmart stores.
Rankin had a better use for the store shelves contents. He decided to buy it all.
Rankin is a business man, and a successful one at that. He told the reporters that he could have sold all that merchandise and made a few bucks off the transactions. As he said, he's got a mind for business. But that isn't what he did. Instead, he donated all of it to a local charity.
Two days after the blue light went off in Rankin's head, he was back in Kmart ready to stock up. I assume he didn't pay in cash because his total was over $200,000. Not your typical run to the local general store. It took over seven hours and four cashiers to check out this monster of a sale.
As for the charity, they have never received such a massive donation. They didn't even have space to store all the hats, gloves and countless other goods. Rankin had that covered, too, don't worry. He even rented storage space for all the merchandise. Talk about going above and beyond. Rankin didn't miss a beat.
When asked why he made the donation he told reporters that he sees people come into his business that are struggling to make ends meet. He owns a jewelry exchange business and often his clientele is made up of the financially strapped, selling off what little they have to cover the necessary expenses of daily life. He wanted to help where he could. So, he saw an opening and he took it.
The next segment on the news might have been about tragedy or a robbery, I couldn't tell you. I wasn't listening anymore. I was thinking about Rankin.
Rankin, an unassuming man by all appearance wearing a t-shirt and jeans while speaking in a backwoods country accent, decided to do something for other people simply because he could. How many of us would look at a closeout sale and see a warehouse full of donation goods for a charity?
Not everyone has 200k to spend for the good of a charity. But we don't need a massive bank account to make a difference. What if, next time we were in a closeout sale, we picked up just a few hats and a few pairs of shoes to donate to a local charity? We don't need to load up a parade full of shopping carts to make a difference.
This winter when the snow begins to fly and the temperatures are frigid, some kids will be warm thanks to the actions of Rankin. They may never see his face or hear his name but they will benefit because he thought about the needs of others.
This is what we are called to as Christians. We are called to fill needs. We are called to be givers. We are called to be outwardly focused, not inwardly.
Rankin's story is convicting - I can attest to that first hand. How often do I pass up the opportunity to help someone else? I would guess it is far more frequently then I can even imagine. In my human selfishness I stroll past opportunities to give without even recognizing them. I've been to close out sales and the thought to pick up a few items to donate has never crossed my mind.
Come Christmas and Thanksgiving I am in the Salvation Army frame of mind - thank you folks who ring the bells outside of every mall, grocery store and Dollar General. But the rest of the year I fall short. When the bell goes silent my giving spirit seems to follow. Out of sight, out of mind. It is a horrible truth to admit, but I go back to living my comfy lifestyle without much thought for the people who aren't so fortunate.
It shouldn't take a bell to remind me of my calling as a Christ follower. It shouldn't take a bell to call me to action.
Rankin served as a reminder in the middle of May that giving isn't just for November and December. Giving is a year-long calling.
Thank you, Rankin, for your donation to Clark County and for reminding this forgetful girl that when you open your eyes there is always an opportunity to make a difference for someone else.
So watch out for those Blue Light Specials.

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