On the California campus of Thomas Aquinas College, a small hallway leads out of St. Joseph Commons directly to the mailroom. Here, students receive letters from family back home, invitations to the many dances throughout the year and — quite often — a small, plastic poker chip.

The chips are anonymously placed in students’ boxes as a reminder that their friends in the community care for them in a truly Christian way. Each one symbolizes a prayer that the person who has left it is offering for its recipient. These “prayer chips” come in different colors to denote the different prayers students offer for each other, such as a Mass intention, a Rosary, or a Holy Hour. When not in circulation, the chips wait in a nearby wire basket, open to use by everyone on campus.

It’s common for students to place prayer chips in the boxes of peers they do not know well, as a way of reaching out spiritually. The anonymity of these chips is a reflection of Christ’s command to make our prayers quietly and humbly: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret” (Matt. 6:3).

Though small, the prayer chips serve as a simple expression of friendship and charity in Christ. “When I see a chip in my box, my day gets better,” reflects sophomore Maria Brittain. “It lets me know that my friends are thinking of me and that they’re talking to God for me.”

The above comes from a Jan. 11 press release from Thomas Aquinas College.