Anonymous gifts tend to be of the monetary kind, but may not be your only option. Still, I'd like to share a few ideas for sharing the wealth (or sacrificial giving, depending on the current state of your bank account) to several types of needy souls:

  • Anyone: Cash is always good. You never know what bill may be going unpaid. Alternatively, you could pay someone's electric bill one month, slide a grocery store gift card into purse or pocket, or make arrangements to pay for an oil change. (Car maintenance can go out the window when money is tight.)
  • Job Seeker: Gift certificate for dry cleaner, nail salon, shoe shine stand, or barber shop. Help them dress for success and they'll feel more confident at that next interview.
  • Financially-Challenged Family:  Gift card to cover movie tickets (don't forget the popcorn!) for the family. When money is really tight, the chance to feel "normal" even for a few hours goes a long way. Or send them dinner fixings (this can be a little tricky to pull off in stealth mode, but you'll find a way).
  • Suffering Single:  A restaurant gift card to a spot frequented by the singles group will allow them to take part in after-church fellowship without wondering if anyone will notice they only had water along with the free chips and salsa.

These are just some ideas to get you started: You'll think of more, I know you will. And when you do, why don't you share them in the comments section below this article? One of those ideas may be just what someone else is looking for.

Finally—and this is important—once you give a gift, let it go. You no longer have any claim on it, so you have no say in how it's used. It's possible the recipient won't react the way you wanted or do what you expected with your gift. That's OK. Just remember, you don't know the whole story. As they say at the end of each Iron Chef battle, "Put it down and walk away." And be happy in the knowledge that when you've done something even for "the least of these" you've done it for the Lord.

Susan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends.  She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life.  Read Susan's blog at

**This column first published on September 16, 2010.