Log in Newsletter


Sharing the spirit of a blessing with others

By Rebekah Sanderlin

The holidays are over. It’s no longer the ‘season for giving‘ — now ‘tis the seaon for re-gifting. While there’s technically nothing wrong with passing a gift that we don’t want or need on to someone else, most people try to do it secretly so that the original giver won’t find out. Now imagine that original giver is Oprah Winfrey and you received the gift on national television.

In the November/December issue of CityView I wrote about how blessed I was to be one of 30 very lucky military spouses selected to receive Oprah’s Favorite Things on a television special that aired November 18. To be honest, it all still seems very surreal to me. Producers from The Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) selected us from among the finalists for the Military Spouse of the Year award, presented by Military Spouse Magazine and Armed Forces Insurance, because of the charitable work we do for the military community. Five finalists are chosen from each branch of service from the nominations they receive. (See the box on page 34 to learn how to nominate someone.) Winners from each branch and an overall winner are then determined through online voting. In 2012 I was honored to be a top five finalist for the Army branch.

As we were opening Oprah’s favorite presents that day in October, she said that she knew our first instinct would be to share our gifts with others. Though she gave us permission to give away a few presents, particularly those that didn’t easily fit into our lives, she admonished us to keep some for ourselves — and to let her blessings invigorate us to do even more for our communities.

We were all so honored to be there and to receive the presents that the ideas for ways to bless our communities began flowing immediately. In the days that followed we created an online group so that we could continue to trade ideas and help each other see those ideas to fruition. As a result, there are already plans in the works for a military spouse fitness and nutrition program; an organization to donate vacation time to military families and many ideas to increase funding and improve the programs that already exist.

The most direct descendant of Oprah’s Favorite Things is a newly launched program called “30 Bows of Giving”. We saved the 30 bows from our gifts from Oprah and now each of us will surprise a military spouse with a gift adorned with a bow from the show. An accompanying letter will explain that we chose that person because we recognize all that she or he has done for us and our community. The letter will charge each recipient to keep the blessings flowing by sending the bow, the letter and a gift to another military spouse. Through this, we hope that many others will get to experience a bit of what we experienced that day.

Of course, many of us have given some of our gifts away. I found very worthy recipients for my electric bicycle, Movado watch and a beautiful bracelet, and there are a few other gifts I’ve set aside to share with others, as well. The same is true for the others who were there with me that day. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were honored and humbled to have been chosen for the experience — and we are motivated to re-gift that blessing to others.