Saturday, November 14, 2009

Changing lives with spare change

A very nice story from the Standard Journal in Rexburg, ID.

Changing lives with spare change
Story and photos by Tony Potter

How a growing holiday tradition is offering hope for needy
families around the world this Christmas

When Jason Wright sat down to discuss “Christmas Jars Reunion,” his latest book quickly became secondary.

What Jason was really excited about, and grateful for, was the movement which had been permeating homes across the country for years now.

In 2005, Wright released “Christmas Jars,” sparking a phenomenon of giving by schools, churches, businesses and many, many people.

“That’s the amazing thing about the book,” Wright says. “It has become a brand, in a way that I never would have possibly imagined. In the first year or two, when people heard Christmas Jars, you thought of a little cheap paperback. Now when people hear Christmas Jars they think of a jar.”

Wright has received many e-mails and people coming up to him at book signings telling him of their experiences giving or receiving a jar, who have never even heard of the book. “The movement has actually become bigger than the book. In fact, the movement has become much bigger than the book,” Wright says.

According to accounts he has received and heard, Christmas Jars have been sighted in all 50 states, as well as many other countries. It is difficult to track, as the jars are intended to be given anonymously, but Wright has been asked to speak at more and more churches, of many denominations, and schools as well, which are incorporating Christmas Jars into their holiday charity. Barnes and Nobles Booksellers have also been supporters of the Christmas Jar brand.

With Christmas drawing near, Wright says now is a great time to kick off your holiday season with a Christmas Jar. But he is wary of the idea that Christmas Jars may have become too corporate or organized. In fact, the motivation behind writing a sequel, besides giving readers the rest of the story, was to remind people that it’s still about one jar, the one that you give.

“When that family opens the door and sees a jar on their front door step they don’t care about the other ten thousand people that may have gotten jars today. They only care about one,” Wright says. He also hopes people aren’t daunted by the task, or worried the change will be a pittance, not worth giving. “It doesn’t matter how much is in it,” Wright says. “The miracle about a Christmas Jar, especially in these tough times, economically, is that to the right family, or to the right college student, to the right widow, $30 worth of change could go a very long way.”

The idea is to put whatever you’ve got, whatever you can accumulate in change. Wright says that it’s not about writing a big check and sticking it inside, or getting $100 from the ATM. Wright says it’s the most you can do through a daily sacrifice, a dollar here and a quarter there.

“I don’t even care at this point if people read the book,” Wright says. If you just want to put a jar on your counter and fill it up and give it away, that works for me.”
Even this late in the year, you’ll be surprised how quickly a jar can be filled, and how much that jar can help someone who has little or nothing for this holiday season. “Start a jar,” Wright says. “Don’t procrastinate the day of your jar giving. There’s no reason to wait.”

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