We did good.
Yesterday was the drop off day for the two families we helped out this year. It was a unique experience from the past two years, because for the first time ever, I got to actually have a conversation with the one mother.
In years past, I drop off the items, give my hugs, leave. This year, one of the moms was unexpectedly away when we went to deliver. When we called, she was at the hospital at her grandmother’s bedside. We offered to come pick her up, drop off the items, then take her back to the hospital, which she agreed to do.
But let me start at the beginning.
The first home we delivered to was the single mom with two boys. As we unloaded the items, her smile grew and she began to cry. Trip after trip, box after box, she kept saying, “Stop. Stop, seriously. This is for us?”
When we brought in the TV she said, “This isn’t real life.”
She lived in a part of town that I don’t often travel through. You can think that you’re used to ‘depressed’ neighborhoods when you drive through parts of East Liberty or Homewood and think – oh it’s not that bad. But to drive beyond that, and to go deeper into some neighborhoods, where the busses don’t run and everyone walks and the doors are rotting away – that’s a depressed neighborhood and that is exactly who needed help.
She was a very kind woman, and I think she hugged me approximately 20 times. Tears fell from her eyes when I showed her the wrapped gifts and told her what was inside them. When she heard she got the tablet for her autistic son, she hugged me like she’d never let me go and whispered “thank you,” into my ear. She tried on her coat, to find that it fit perfectly, and she raved about the boots, saying she hasn’t had a pair of winter boots in years. I handed her her envelope of gift cards and when she saw one was for a clothing store only she could benefit from (not her kids) she said, “I get to buy myself something?
It’s hard to explain to these families prior to us dropping off the items that they are going to be getting a bunch of things. For one, you don’t want to make promises you may not be able to keep and two, they don’t believe it until they see it, which I completely understand.
So when the second mom climbed into the back of the ambulance with myself and my friend Ron, she looked at the stuff packed in there, and casually asked, “Oh, do you have more places to go after me?” to which I responded, “No, this is all for you.”
The tears were instant, and she immediately said, “But I’m sure there are people out there who need this more than me.” Which, sure, it may be true, but I simply told her, “You are deserving of these things.”
There is always going to be someone worse off than yourself. Always. I explained to her that while she may not be the worst case out there, it doesn’t mean she deserves it any less. She’s in a rough patch financially and emotionally, and she told me that this is a lift to her spirits.
I then gave her my email address, because she would like to be able to pay it forward when we do this again next year.
I really wish that I could have gotten videos of the deliveries. I wish you all could share in that moment, because it is truly like no other. To see, first hand, the giving back and genuine smiles from both sides. To offer hope when one feels hopeless. Everyone standing a little bit taller.
Every day we are bombarded with the horrible things that happen around the world and in our backyard. I offer this as a small way to hopefully neutralize some of that.
Yesterday, we saw no politics, no race, no war. What we saw was happiness, kindness and equality. Yesterday, I stood next to people who, when I didn’t even ask for it, gave me something no one can ever take away from me: joy. And I thanked them for allowing me to help them.
When you feel enveloped with fear or sadness, remember: an act of kindness, in any size, can change someone’s life. Even your own.
Thank you again for allowing me to do this, because this means more to me than you will ever know.