When Sita Jasper, nee Ah Ching, was a student at the Church College of Hawaii, she remembers being hungry after finishing the evening shift at the Polynesian Cultural Center and her roommates and her being fed by neighbors in Laie, Hawaii. "A lot of them we didn't know that well, but they would bring us inside and give us anything they had," she says.
The community's example confirmed what Sita had been taught at home. Her parents were giving people, her grandmother too, and her great-grandfather's generosity has affected generations.
Known as "Old Man" Ah Ching, her great-grandfather came to Samoa from China on a merchant vessel. He saved his earnings, and he invested everything.
When he was robbed by his business partner, Ah Ching's first thought was revenge, but the Lord intervened, and Ah Ching's heart changed. He learned to trust God and love his fellowman (see "Gospel Ideals," pp. 565-570).
Todd Jasper, Sita's husband, says he has learned to be a more giving person from Sita and her family.
"You can never give enough to equal what you receive from the Lord," he says.
Benefiting students makes sense to the Jaspers. "Education breaks the cycle of poverty," says Todd. "When you're educated, you have more income, you pay more tithing and you are blessed. In return, you give back and you carry that cycle on."
Sita says, "Providing education is part of rescuing people."
BYU-Hawaii includes a spiritual dimension with the benefits of education. "It was actually at BYU-Hawaii that I learned that the Lord answers my prayers," Sita says. "Being at school in Laie makes better church members and leaders; BYU-Hawaii alumni are helping to build the Lord's kingdom."
Todd and Sita support scholarships at BYU-Hawaii and have contributed to the President's and Trustees Fund, which allows the university president to fund pressing and unexpected needs. The Jaspers live and work in Utah, where Sita is president and CEO of Quality Distribution.
Why do the Jaspers donate? "Changing hearts and improving lives is why we give," says Sita. "The gospel is everything to us."