Over the past 63 years, Eulea and I.J. Tharp have reserved the use of their wedding silver for special occasions only. “Back in the 1950s, those of us with new diamond rings went down to the store and registered for china or silverware,” Mrs. Tharp laughs. “Instead of registering for more practical things like toasters.” Pristinely maintained and polished after every use, their silver became more than serving pieces. Representative of loved ones who, over time, gave a knife, a fork, a spoon, their wedding silver became a legacy of their own heritage and marriage.

“For the past couple of years, I have glanced at our chest of silver on the shelf and other things around the house. Realizing at our age, we really have a lot of things to give away.”

After offering the silver to her children and grandchildren and finding no takers, Mrs. Tharp hoped to find a meaningful solution. A postcard in the mail from Prison Fellowship, a ministry the Tharps support, explained that after many years of being limited to cash-only gifts, they were now able to accept such donations as cars and other valuable assets. From the moment she learned of this new information, Mrs. Tharp recalls, “A light just went off in my head!” The wedding silver that sat perched on their shelf for years could now serve as a donation towards programs that bring hope and healing to prisoners and their families and communities.

Founded in 1976, Prison Fellowship Ministries is the world’s largest outreach to prisoners and their families. Jim Liske, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship Ministries, explained,

“We believe that no life is beyond God’s reach. Our mission is to restore men and women to their full, God-given potential behind prison walls and in communities affected by the cycle of crime and incarceration.”

Prison Fellowship has for over 35 years relied on staff, volunteers and donations to deliver its ministry, now in more than 470 prisons and jails and in all 50 states.

Learning of the Tharps’ donation, Mr. Liske admired the uniqueness of their gift. “Mr. and Mrs. Tharp value the ministry enough to give something that is sentimental. They are beautifully stewarding an object they have treasured, and their generosity will now fuel restorative programs that rebuild families, transform communities, and address issues upstream from prisons and jails!” The Tharps’ precious memory now will go on to help others – build new lives and build new precious memories.

Melissa Bridges, Gift Planning Manager at Prison Fellowship, also saw firsthand the impact of the Tharps’ noncash donation through iDonate. “We are excited to expand the variety of noncash assets that our partners can use to share the hope and love of Jesus with others,” she said. “iDonate enables all of us who support the ministry to easily give in a new and meaningful way.”

Mrs. Tharp describes the process of donating their wedding silver through iDonate as easy and encouraging. “It certainly simplified what I thought I could do with the silverware!” Appreciative of the ease in contributing, she is eager to work with iDonate again.

The Tharps’ donation will be used towards Prison Fellowship’s mission to serve the incarcerated. “We wanted to find a place where the silver would be honoring to the Lord and used for His ministry.” After 63 years of marriage and countless meals enjoyed around their table, the Tharps certainly chose an impactful way to use their silver for one last special occasion.