Monday, February 15, 2016

Roll up the Rim for Lent

Dear Theophilous,

There can be no virtue without temptation.

In his brilliance St. Augustine gave us many quotes, but lately this has become one of my favourites. Each time the notion to sin pops to mind, I silently whisper this mantra, and I feel my will strengthened. If I’m to be honest, though, there are times when I need to shout it to save myself.

In a similar vein, it has been an ongoing joke in our home over the years that we know when Lent has arrived, because it’s also time to Roll up the Rim to Win!

People from across Canada will understand the reference to the annual promotional event by the nation’s best-loved coffee shop (and cultural institution). Through February and March every year, Tim Hortons restaurants offer their clients the chance to win one of millions of prizes (ranging from free coffees and donuts to a free car) by simply looking under the rim of their throwaway paper cup.

The inside joke in our home is that this promotion always coincides with the penitential season of Lent – a time when Catholics are called to cut back and sacrifice as a way to prepare for Christ’s Passion and enjoin ourselves to His suffering on the Cross. Timmies seems set on derailing our efforts as our next up will be the big winner, and if it isn’t, at least we’ll be assuaged by the fact that we’ve won a free sweet.

What’s a poor, penitent Catholic who’s trying to cut back on their caffeine or calorie intake to do?

There is no virtue without temptation.

The suburban Catholic high school where I teach has come up with an ingenious way to take part in this yearly slice of Canadiana while still heeding Christ’s call to the Corporal Works of Mercy. There’s a basket in the main office for winning coffee cup rims, which are then donated to a local homeless shelter. Each week a dozen or so coffees and donuts go to those who need them most. In the years that the school has been collecting winning rims, no one has ever donated a car, but I’m sure the shelter would never say no to the winner keeping the car and making a cash donation of 10% of its worth.

If there isn’t such a basket at your workplace yet, dear Theophilous, I would challenge you to put one out. Not only would the excited water cooler chatter of who’s coffee was a winner continue, there would be the added joyful glow of know the winnings were going to those who need it while our Lenten sacrifices remain intact.


  1. What a neat idea. I bet if they contacted Tim Horton, the restaurant might match the donation. It's worth a shot. :)

    1. Thanks for the idea Lis, I will mention this to our school chaplain, who organizes the collection. God bless.

  2. Hi Robert,

    I would like to thank you for blogging about your idea for Roll up the Rim to Win. I came across your blog and shared this idea with the staff from my intermediate school. As a school community - students, teachers, support staff and parents - we have decided to make this our imitative for the duration of lent. We will be donating all our our winnings to our local shelter. Great idea!


    1. Thank you for your kind words Elly. That is truly amazing that your school is taking on this initiative as well. It really costs us nothing, yet the goodness that comes from it is exponential. May God bless you and your school community!