Let me tell you a story that I hope will make you smile and inspire you to do the same. It’s a random-act-of-kindness story, and I haven’t stopped thinking about how it all played out, more than three weeks ago…..
My family and I had been out running errands on foot, while getting in a nice long dog walk and chilly fresh air on a Saturday afternoon. We had mailed some Christmas packages, stopped at a bakery for a treat, and zipped into the pet store for some dog supplies. As we walked past our local grocery store, we noticed a man perched on his knees, bundled in blankets, holding a cardboard sign that read “Homeless, please help.” A dirty, worn coffee cup sat in front of him, revealing a small amount of change, and a plastic shopping bag sat behind him, well-worn and stuffed with belongings.
When we spotted him, my kids asked for money to give, and walked over to place it into his cup. We walked on, and talked about his situation further. The day was cold, but the plaza was busy, and we stood further down the sidewalk and watched as dozens of people walked past without a glance.
It broke our collective hearts.
“I’m going to get him a gift card at Tim Horton’s,” my husband said, and he and my daughter headed down the street. My son and I went into the dollar store to see what we could find. We found warm socks and hand warmers, and bought lots of them. We assembled our care package of sorts, and walked back towards the shivering figure. My husband knelt down and offered him the bag full of items, “I hope this will help you to keep warm,” he said. The man smiled, and reached a cold glove out of his blanket pile to shake my husband’s hand.
The four of us walked away in silence, and I began to cry. I looked to my husband, who also had a tear in his eye, and to my children, who always cry when I cry. We were quite the sight, the four of us crying and walking, the dog trailing close behind.
I was crying about the handshake.
I was crying about the fact that he just wanted someone to see him for what he was; someone down on their luck who needed a helping hand. I was crying about the pride he would’ve had to swallow to ask for money in the first place. I was crying about the people who walked by, not even acknowledging his presence. I was crying about the generosity of my children. I was crying about this tough lesson taught. I was crying for him.
That day opened up the floodgates for our Christmas giving; it has inspired us to give more than ever before, and we’ve found some wonderful local organizations to put our dollars behind. We made a difference in that man’s life, if only for that one day, and it proved to us that random-acts-of-kindness help those on both sides of the transaction.
Give. Spread the word. Repeat.