The Ten Dollar Challenge


For some weeks now, I’ve been a bystander—a spectator—as many of my friends (Billy Coffey, Kathy Richards, Bridget Chumbley, & Jennifer Lee among others) have taken part in the Ten Dollar Challenge.

What is the Ten Dollar Challenge?

It’s a gauntlet that Novelist Blogger Extraordinaire (whose highly anticipated book, Snow Day, releases in 2010) threw down some weeks ago to honor God by setting aside $10 to bless a person who needs a blessing this Christmas. And so I, like many others, slipped a ten spot into the back of my checkbook cover to await The Perfect Recipient.

But days passed and I never came across The One that I felt God wanted me to bless. Then weeks passed and I started to wonder if I would just end up dropping the bill into the offering at church.

And then, in the middle of a trivial conversation with a friend, I knew I’d found The One.

Lou is a friend. A dear friend. Several years ago, she lost her husband to a very unexpected heart attack. He wasn’t even sixty and he was gone. Then, when she already felt that she’d lost everything and things couldn’t get worse, they did. She lost her home, her husband’s business, and all of her financial security in one fell swoop.

Alone, with a meager secretarial income and almost no support system, she started from scratch. She found a little apartment that was close to her church and a little roommate to help pay the bills.

But the downhill slide wasn’t over. The little company she was working for couldn’t afford to pay her. The bills continued to pile up until the day came that she couldn’t afford to pay her portion of the bills. She stayed in a spare room at her son’s for a while, but quickly found that she wasn’t really welcome to stay there indefinitely.

Christmas of 2009 finds Lou living with a family from her church. This family of four (in a three bedroom house) doesn’t have room for her in their house, but because they have room for her in their hearts, they made the space for her in their house. She works one part time job and does as many odd jobs as she can to make ends meet (which they never quite do). She’s lost her car. Has no insurance. And many days when we speak at lunchtime, she asks me what I’m having for lunch because she doesn’t have a lunch of her own to enjoy.

And then the day came a couple of weeks ago that she casually mentioned that she was going to start going downtown to the Plasma Center to sell her blood—to pay her bills. And I knew that she was The One.

Last Thursday, I invited Lou and her granddaughter out to supper at Lou’s favorite restaurant—Cracker Barrel. On that particular day, I knew that my boss was giving me a 20+ pound pork shoulder for Christmas. (In the South, food is our love language.) As appreciative as I was to him for that gift, I knew someone else that needed it. I loaded the still-hot, freshly grilled pork shoulder into a box in the backseat of my car and headed to Cracker Barrel.

Lou pulled into the space next to me. As soon as she opened her door, I handed her that hot box full of pork shoulder. She and her granddaughter oohed and aahed over it and we went inside to enjoy our meal. We had the best time sitting and eating and laughing in front of the fire, but eventually, we needed to head our separate ways.

We walked out into the cold, dark evening and I could hear her granddaughter’s teeth chattering just a little. When we reached our cars, I slipped my hand into my purse. It effortlessly fell on my checkbook. I slid my cold fingers into the cover and extracted the bill. I turned and handed it to her in the dim parking lot. She glanced at it in her hand and then reached for me as she began to cry.

Thinking about it, I have to say that her hug is just about the best Christmas gift I’ve ever gotten in my thirty-one years. It was a reminder of how God’s love works—especially at Christmas.

Will YOU take the Ten Dollar Challenge? Visit HERE for more details and stories from others who have taken the challenge.

About Sarah Salter


  1. Awesome Sarah. Thanks for being such a blessing and for sharing this story. I’m sure you were more of a blessing than you will ever know.

  2. Sometimes we think if we can’t do grand things, they’re not worth doing, but as Annie said, you probably blessed her more than you will know. Not just with a meal and a ten dollar bill, but with the love that was behind it.

  3. What a great story, Sarah. And what a great way to part with your ten dollars. I’m going to be thinking a lot about Lou for a while. I’m going to be doing a lot of praying, too.

  4. It’s a blessing to be able to help someone–especially a friend. Sometimes I’m amazed at the hardships people suffer through everyday and I’m so grateful for everything the Lord gives me and allows me to have. Every year, my mom finds a family for our family to sponsor for Christmas. Because of her heart we are all blessed with reaching out to a family that needs the love of Jesus in a tangible way. What a blessing to be a blessing to someone.

  5. I am glad that you were able to bless Lou.

  6. Very cool. I did the $10 challenge, but it was someone in our church and there are reasons why I can’t really write about it. It is more blessed to give than receive. Understanding God’s graciousness moves us to respond…

    Thanks for your heart and obedience, Sarah! You are a blessing. 🙂

  7. I’m glad you were able to be a help to that family. Way to step up to the challenge!

  8. Wow, that is so personal. The details of the back story is so different from my anonymous $10 experience, and so meaningful. I love that it wasn’t random; that you gave knowing the need.

    I’m sure that meal tasted so delicious, given with love from a friend.

    Beautiful story.

  9. Sarah… you have such a giving heart! I’m sure that hug meant as much to you as ALL the ‘blessings’ you poured out over Lou.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  10. Lou’s story has touched me. Can you please send me information on how I can assist her? As usual, I have to say; you are an amazing writer…..

  11. How cool that God gave you that opening to bless Lou and be blessed for doing it! Very wonderful.

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