A church in western New York gave congregants white envelopes containing a $100 bill at services this weekend.
Nearly 85 families, as well as individuals over 18 years old, received envelopes at The Vine Wesleyan Church in Depew, N.Y. – a small suburb of Buffalo.
The Rev. Christopher Baldwin said the state of the economy lead church directors to reallocate money to the congregation. Usually, money is sent to charities and victims of natural disasters.
"Traditionally we have taken a special offering at Christmas Eve and we have sent it to a Christ-centered ministry,” a note inside the envelope read. “This year the needs are greater than ever in so many places, including for some of us [in] our own families."
The church decided to forgo the usual Christmas Eve request for a monetary offering and instead distributed the gifts.
"In lieu of taking a Christmas Eve offering this year, we're going to give back to you so that you can meet a need in your own life or the life or ministry of someone else," the note said.
The church doled out around $8,500 in the gesture. Families with college-aged students received multiple envelopes. Baldwin told the congregation that he hoped the gifts fulfilled a need in the their lives or in the lives of someone else.
Some members of the church said they would donate the gift to a charity anyway, and some offered to double the $100 gift before donating it.
"As the Bible says, 'It's more blessed to give than to receive,'" Baldwin told The Buffalo News.