A Season of Giving and Gratitude
About five years ago, I wrote about a young woman who demonstrated to me the greatest spirit of giving I have ever known. Her charitable act of selflessness left an imprint on me that I hope to never forget. Her story from 34 years ago is important to me, and I think of it frequently during the holidays in retrospect of my own life.
Cindy was a single mother with two young children, and her financial situation was quite bleak. I didn’t pay close enough attention to recognize just how hard her life had become because she never indicated that she was struggling. She simply never complained. I should have been more considerate of her situation, but at the time, regrettably I was not.
It was only days before Christmas when Cindy admitted to me a miracle that had taken place in her life. She had not been able to purchase any gifts for her children and decided to go to Walmart with the hope that she could find something-anything-to give to her children on Christmas morning. She only had five dollars in her wallet, which would seem to most of us to be an unattainable task, but she had hope and, I believe, faith that somehow it would be enough. It was not long, of course, before she realized she simply could not get anything with that small amount of money and decided to leave the store.
On her way out and just beyond the automatic doors, she walked by the Salvation Army stand and paused. She admitted to me that she reached into her wallet, pulled out that small amount of cash, and slid it into the donation pot. I can’t remember her exact words, but she said something like, “That money was not enough for me to do any good, but it may help someone else”.
The first lesson here is that many around us have far less than we do. Some have very little, and we may never recognize it unless we pay close attention. Both faith and charity are extremely important.
There is, of course, more to this story. A short time later, before Christmas Day, Cindy found an envelope stuck in the door of her apartment. When she opened it up, it was filled with the cash necessary to provide a very happy Christmas morning for her children. I have no idea, nor did she, as to who may have put that envelope in Cindy’s door jamb. I have, however, often felt shallow that I was not the one to recognize her situation and respond.
The second lesson is: don’t let opportunities slip by. They are not going to be obvious most of the time. We must work to find those who need our help, and we need to be prepared to offer the assistance needed.
My hope is that we all need opportunities to be charitable and supportive this holiday season, that we take care of those in need, and look for opportunities to love and care for others.
Please have a wonderful holiday season.
Mayor Mark Johnson