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Every Little Bit Counts

By Chelsea Risley, Berry College

October 2012

I'm fascinated by the "begging letters" Martha Berry sent out periodically. She had a rather impressive talent for making friends and gaining donors. Anytime I come across a new begging letter or a letter from someone who was convinced to give by one of the letters, I take particular interest.

As I was file joining recently I read a letter written by Mrs. Herbert Dunn. In it, she expressed her desire to give to the work of Berry and even to solicit others to give as well. This was a woman who really believed in the mission of the Berry Schools. She didn't seem to have a personal relationship with Miss Berry but you can almost hear her enthusiasm in her words. Alongside the excitement in her letter was the deep regret that she was unable to give more to the schools. She had only fifty cents to spare, but she still went out and bought the stamp to send her donation to support something she believed in.

A lot of donors were able to give astounding amounts of money to Berry, yet somehow I think Mrs. Dunn's gift seems more valuable because it was a greater sacrifice. I'm reminded of a quote from one of Martha's begging letters: “any gift, NO MATTER HOW SMALL, will be most welcome.” I have wondered if that was effective, and apparently, there was at least one woman who took it to heart.

This woman and her tiny donation my seem insignificant, but I think the lesson to be learned here is anything but small. I hope that in my life there will be causes and people and ministries that I believe in as much as Mrs. Dunn believed in Berry. Her fifty cents didn't build any dormitories or provide any scholarships for students, but who knows how many people she inspired to give to Berry. Her fifty cents and her passion probably went a long way. Even 84 years later, Mrs. Dunn's gift is still challenging me - and hopefully you too - to be so passionate about something that I would make great sacrifices to support it.

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