The Gift of a Wild Card

Faith SandlerGiving, Words of Faith

I recently met a longtime Scholarship Foundation dear friend for coffee and delivery of an $18,000 check.

The amount, timing and meaning of the gift is specific and special. Though the two of us have been talking about restricted gift options over the last several months, she arrived at our March meeting resolved that her gift would be anonymous and unrestricted, not directed to specific program purpose. I asked her how she came to her decision and began writing down her words, so that I could remember and repeat the message that so inspired me.

“Why $18,000? The number 18 stands for “chai” or “life”. In Hebrew each letter has a numerical equivalent, and the sum of chet (numerical value of 8) and yud (numerical value of 10) is 18. Gifts in multiples of 18 are a Jewish tradition.

“Why am I doing this now? I have the funds at the moment and I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t predict what needs might arise for my family or my community.”

“I am not attached to a single program or idea, but rather to the combination of programs, services and people involved at the Foundation. I so respect and trust The Scholarship Foundation.”

“We live in unpredictable times and in giving an unrestricted gift, it is my hope to help the Foundation provide for student needs which may arise as a result.”

“I don’t know what goes on in those families that look perfect. Maybe there are struggles I can’t see, even amid what looks like wealth and success. We live in a place where expectations are high and appearances matter. Much goes unsaid.”

“Even in their mid-30s, my kids know they always have a safety net. They know they can call me with a problem or need and it’s 99% certain I will say yes and help. I think of those who don’t have family that can help in that way, who may turn to The Scholarship Foundation to be that safety net.”

“I see the relieved faces of my own family members when I help out, and I want to be able to provide that kind of relief to students who are struggling to thrive. That might be paying a bill for someone or it might be a ‘new start’ scholarship for a person who has struggled with alcohol or drugs.”

“This gift is a wild card*, a way of recognizing that no matter how great a hand you were dealt, you may stumble and a boost from people who care may be what you need to get back up.”

Finally, the conversation comes back to “chai” or 18 or luck. My friend (and yours) concludes that “having financial resources can be a function of the lottery of life, not just hard work”. Her hope is that her gift will give the Foundation opportunity to help a student in ways their family may not be able. And how lucky is The Scholarship Foundation that she chooses to give the gift of a wonderful and well-timed wild card!

*Merriam-Webster’s first definition of the phrase “wild card” is: an unknown or unpredictable factor.

– Faith Sandler