Last year, a young woman drove 30 minutes in the dark to the nearest gas station to fill her tank.
She pulled into the parking lot with her gas light on and the engine sputtering. It was a pre-pay station, so she ran into the store to make her purchase when she realized at the counter she didn’t have her wallet.
The store clerk couldn’t take a check and said there was nothing she could do to help.
The young woman walked out to her car and stood there in the frigid cold, wondering what she was going to do with no money and no gas. At that point, her breath a white cloud of uncertainty, she felt a tap on her shoulder and turned to find a short, jolly man holding out $25.
“Let me help you,” he said. “I have a daughter your age and I would want someone to help her.”
The young woman tried to write him a check, but he pushed it away, gave her a hug and said, “Have a wonderful day, sweetheart.”
With the season of giving upon us, it is time to pass it on and pay it forward.
Life keeps us busy, with jobs, families, chores and errands. Times are tough, and many people are barely getting by. That is why it is ever more important to pay attention to your neighbor and to the people you pass by, because you never know when you might be able to make a positive difference in someone’s life.
Instead of wondering why the family down the street can’t seem to clear their sidewalk as you trudge through knee-deep snow, why not get out your own shovel and do it for them. For whatever reason, they may need the help. Or, when you’re done snowblowing your driveway after a major storm, clear out a path to your elderly neighbors’ front doors so they can get out of their homes.
There are many ways to help your fellow community members and not one of them has to be monetary. Now, if you’re in the financial position to help in that regard, by all means pass along a more generous tip to the single mom waiting your table or help the family of five in line ahead of you at the grocery pay for their items. You could also donate all or part of your bonus from work to a worthwhile charity.
If you don’t get a bonus and money is tight, volunteering your time is the next best thing. It is just as helpful to offer to carry those groceries and pack them in their car. And knitting mittens and socks for a neighbor in need or chemotherapy hats for cancer patients makes a big difference.
If times are truly tough, as we consistently read, hear and see, then what better time to pass on your good fortune or pay it forward to someone in need.
Open a door; take a hot meal to a housebound senior; drop off a gift to a family in need; volunteer at the local soup kitchen or food pantry; invite a homeless family to Christmas dinner.
You just might make someone’s heart smile when they truly need it the most. They, in turn, just might make someone else’s heart smile.
And what better present can you give during the season of giving, especially, when times are tough.
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