I would like to introduce you to Oseola McCarty. Born in Wayne County, Miss., on March 7, 1908, she was raised by her mother, Lucy. Her mother, she recalled, was a hard worker as were her grandmother and aunt.
Those lessons of hard work paid off. On July 26, 1995, Oseola, single with no children of her own, donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi scholarship program. “I want to help somebody’s child go to college,” she said.
Known as a washerwoman, Oseola spent her entire life washing and ironing. When asked how she got started she said, “I would go to school and come home and iron. I’d put money away and save it. When I got enough, I went to First Mississippi National Bank and put it in. The teller told me it would be best to put it in a savings account. I didn’t know. I just kept on saving.”
During 78 years of washing and ironing clothes, using very little of her income for her own comfort or advancement, giving and faith kept her focused. She reminds me of the woman that Jesus points to during his giving lesson as one who has given everything out of her little.
This kind of faith and vision is often overlooked today because we are impressed by celebrities and big fortunes but it is not the gift that makes the impression, it is the faithfulness.
Oseola’s only regret was not completing her education. Although school was her world, she never went back after leaving the sixth grade to take care of her grandmother and aunt so that her mother could continue to work.
Oseola’s faithfulness was rewarded as she made her first trip out of the south to Washington, D.C., to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Clinton in 1995. In 1998 she received an honorary degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She died the following year.
What a gift!
Valora K Starr is director for discipleship.