Not many people can refuse a 3-year-old girl asking for help or a 7-year-old holding a bucket for donations.
It's almost a natural instinct to dig into pockets to drop money in the bucket.
For Mackenzie Kaloupek, 7, and her 3-year-old sister, Lexi, this tendency helped them with a service mission for Grace Lutheran Church - they stood in front of Hy-Vee for 90 minutes after church last Sunday and took in more than $200, money that will go to the Lord's Cupboard as part of Grace's Kids' Big Give.
They could have stayed longer, but it was nap time.
The Big Give project at Grace handed out 14 envelopes holding $20 bills to youngsters during the children's sermon. There are a few rules:
The money cannot be kept. It must be given away to someone or something.
Money could be donated to a worthy cause, split between two or more projects, purchase a product at a reduced rate and resold for more money pr buy food for the food pantry. ''See if someone will match your donation,'' was one of the suggestions.
Document the mission, providing a written description and photo.
Kelly Bradley and her husband, Mark, of Fort Dodge, introduced their granddaughters to Sunday school at Grace. The girls will be baptized Sunday into the Grace family, and their parents, Teisha and David Kaloupek, will join the church on Sunday. A little sister, Lynzie, will have her baptism reaffirmed.
''The girls have been coming to Sunday school with me for years,'' Bradley said. ''I was a teacher.''
She was tickled, she said, when both girls received money envelopes and she encouraged them to try to get matching donations for the Big Give project set up by Joan Meyer.
''Mackenzie got it first, and she was so excited,'' Bradley said. ''She wanted to provide for the poor.'' Bradley frowned a bit before saying, ''maybe I should have said 'the less fortunate.'''
Bradley said Mackenzie has been ''saving her allowance so she can adopt a child overseas'' so she'd already been considering what to do with her money. When Lexi also got an envelope with cash, it seemed like a good idea to try to generate further donations.
The girls' mother built a three-sided board with information on the project, and the girls helped decorate it. When they were outside the grocery store, they held the sign for everyone to see, and Mackenzie held a Hy-Vee bucket with a hole cut in the top so donations could be dropped in. Both girls asked passersby for their help. They already knew who would receive whatever money they got.
''It's easy to find somebody who could use $20,'' Bradley said. ''But the idea for the donations would bring in more money. They knew people would give,'' especially when they knew money would go to the Lord's Cupboard.
The Rev. Matthew Martens, pastor at Grace, said ''there's a severe shortage right now at the Lord's Cupboard. They just put out another plea. It really hard for folks right now. We're getting so many appeals at church.''
Martens said other Big Give money was donated to the Cia Thornton headstone and to plant a memorial bush for Connie Blocker, who died of cancer in the spring, at Fort Dodge Senior High. More projects have yet to come in.
All project documentation will be put into a video presentation to be shown to the congregation on Rally Sunday, Sept. 7, the opening of the Sunday school year.
Martens said he is encouraged by the success of the Kaloupek girls' project.
''That's what we feel we're all about - to get Christ's mission out into the world,'' he said. ''If the kids are helping, then we know we're carrying it into the next generation.''
Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org