Surprising Acts of Generosity

After moving back to central Illinois at the end of 1991, I immediately began asking about where I could get a good donut and coffee. One of our church secretaries, Polly Jones, advised that I try out the small shop down the street called Mel-O-Cream Donuts.  While I had never heard of this local and family-owned company, I did have some considerable experience with Shipley Do-Nuts in Texas (over 300 locations!).😉 I told her I’d give the new shop a try but had a strong feeling that it would be hard to beat the familiar  products of my past when I had a hankering for a good blueberry cake, sausage roll or fruit-filled kolache.

Kelly Grant Jr., Owner CCO 

Well, that was then, and this is now, some thirty years later. Polly was right, Mel-O-Cream’s chocolate Long Johns, apple fritters, and even the plain old-fashioned donuts are so tasty with a good cup of Joe! Mel-O-Cream has been baking their products (over 100 varieties!) since 1932 right here in Springfield, Illinois. Today,  they service supermarkets and convenience stores selling their frozen donuts wholesale within a 600-mile radius. They also have five independent  franchise stores selling donuts locally to die-hard fans in retail settings.

4411 Yucan Drive

On Thursday mornings, when I am on the west side of Springfield for a ministry opportunity, I like to start the day with a couple of donuts (plain and chocolate old-fashioned!) and coffee at the newest Mel-O-Cream store on Yucan Drive. I was surprised recently as I approached the register to pay and the server remarked, “Your money doesn’t mean anything today! These donuts are free!”

I mildly protested and answered, “No, I’m more than willing to pay!” I thought at first that this might have been a “senior discount perk” or something! But the man behind the counter further explained that a man had come in earlier with a $100 bill and said, “Give the next customers free donuts until this amount is drained!” The server could see my surprised look and added, “Just pay it forward!” I didn’t know what else to say, but commented, “Well, if he comes back, be sure to tell him we appreciate the generosity!”

I have been the benefactor of that “just pay it forward” generosity on two other occasions in recent memory as I tried to pay for my order at Starbucks and McDonalds. This kind of generosity always surprises and delights me! I come away with a feeling that it is always nice to see that there are some very generous and thoughtful people in this world. And, of course, you will find some not so generous folks, too. I always want to be numbered among the former as we pray that the latter will come along!

I know what some of you readers are thinking, “What a crazy thing to do! We shouldn’t be eating donuts anyway! They are nothing more than globs of sugar!” I do agree, however, that healthful nutrition and donuts shouldn’t even be used in the same sentence. Yet, I am hesitant to criticize someone for trying to give people a good reason to start their day with a smile and give them a good feeling in their spirit!

As a retired pastor, I have spent years of active ministry promoting generosity through tithing and systematic giving in the local church. I have encouraged additional offerings to be made to good causes throughout the community as well. I like the accountability of giving through the church and to local charities. I think about the good that is accomplished near and far through well-funded programs of evangelism, discipleship, and ministries to the poor and needy. I think of how much more we could accomplish if more of us would get on the “generosity bandwagon!”

Jesus spoke a lot about giving in the gospels. He saw it as laying up or “paying it forward” in terms of eternal treasures. He said, “Don’t keep hoarding for yourselves earthly treasures that can be stolen by thieves. Material wealth eventually rusts, decays, and loses its value. Instead, stockpile heavenly treasures for yourselves that cannot be stolen and will never rust, decay, or lose their value. For your heart will always pursue what you esteem as your treasure.” (Matthew 6:19-21, TPT).

What ways can you express generosity today that will “stockpile heavenly treasures” for tomorrow? Let’s do something surprising for the cause of Christ that will make a lasting difference!

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,

active churchman and
doting grandparent.


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