It was a simple email sent to the general mailbox of the homeless shelter where I work. A simple request from a young boy. Eight years old. Grade 3 at a local school.
Subject: grade 3 student wants to help
Hi. We are studying the topic of 'homelessness' in English language arts, and 'global citizenship' in social studies. I have realized that small gestures can make a difference in another person's life. I am doing extra chores around the house to earn extra money for the homeless right now. What can I do with this money? Should I get blankets, mits or hats? or something else? Is there anything that I can do that will make a difference? Please let me know as soon as you have a chance.
I responded and thanked him for his kindness. You make a difference by caring enough to want to make a difference, I told him. Mitts and socks are most welcome, I added.
He wrote back and said he'd be buying socks and mitts, since that is what is needed. He also wrote, I am working hard, and my Dad said he would match every dollar I earned! So now I need to work even harder. My mom said my gramma would probably do the same thing. That a pretty good idea because sometimes people dont know what they can do to help but they can by doing even little things.
He came in Tuesday afternoon with his mom, two little sisters and a stuffed dog named Ethan which one of his sisters clutched firmly in her mitten covered hands. I brought the family up to the administration floor to take a picture of him presenting his donation to our Executive Director.
Proudly, he pulled his backpack off his back and opened the zipper. His face beaming with a toothy grin, he displayed its contents. Socks. Warm winter gloves. Hotshots and a bag of chocolate Hershey kisses.
He'd spent $37 on socks and gloves from the money he'd earned and his father had matched. His gramma had donated an additional $100. He proudly presented me with the cheque tucked inside his backpack along with the change from the $40. "You can't keep the backpack," he said. "I need it for school."
As he emptied the goodies into a box he pulled out a large sheet of card stock paper. The top half had tiny round perforations. Shyly, he passed the card to his mom, his chin tucked into the puffy collar of his blue ski jacket.
She passed the card over to me. "He's legally blind," she said. "I translated the Braille on the bottom half of the card he wrote."
I swallowed hard. I ran my fingertips along the perforations. Slowly, I read his words which his mother had printed beneath the Braille.
Dear Louise Thank you for helping me make a little bit of a difference. Thank you for all you do to make a difference, too.
Inspiration comes in many forms, shapes and colours. On Tuesday afternoon, inspiration came in the form of a small eight year old boy with a backpack full of winter essentials. With his limited sight, he saw into the heart of the matter. He knew that he could do something, and that whatever he did, it would make a difference. No matter how small, he knew every bit counts.
What that young boy did is no small matter. In his determination to do his chores and raise the money to buy things we needed, he taught each of us the value of the difference we make when we each do something, no matter how small, to help carry the burden for those who need our help.
His backpack was filled with more than just gloves and socks, a cheque and some change and Hershey kisses. His backpack was filled with the possibilities that open up when we look at what we can do when don't limit ourselves to doing nothing because all we see is what little difference we make.
The question is: Do you see yourself making a difference? Are you willing to do some small thing to make a difference in someone else's life?