|Harlingen, Texas, January 5, 2010 -- It was only a brief news report, when it should have been a banner headline. An eight-year-old girl used her Christmas vacation to collect 251 new and used winter coats for people who would suffer in the frigid cold of January. Here in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where thousands of people are impacted by living in one of the most economically disadvantaged regions of the country, there are at least 251 people who will have a warmer winter because of one little girl, the current|
Little Miss San Benito, eight-year-old Zaralegui Guzman.
At the time I heard about this child and her coat campaign, I was reading the words of best selling author Dean Koontz. In his novel, From The Corner of His Eye Koontz writes, “Not one day in anyone's life is an uneventful day, no day without profound meaning, no matter how dull and boring it may seem, no matter whether you are a seamstress or a queen, a shoeshine boy or a movie, a renowned philosopher or a Down's-syndrome child. Because in every day of your life, there are opportunities to perform little kindnesses to others, both by conscious acts of will and unconscious example.”
Those tender moments of kindness are all around us. Events such as this are happening every day of our lives, but we seldom hear about them because of the media credo of “If it bleeds-It leads!”
You seldom hear about people like Bobby Johnson, a hairdresser in Columbia, Missouri. One of her steady customers went through the trauma of breast cancer. Bobby was there for her at the times she was the lowest. The beautician provided her customer with a foundation of emotional and spiritual support. Bobby's birthday arrived and with it came a special gift, a check for $5,000. The customer remains unnamed.
Nor are we often told about preschool children such as those in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, who went to businesses and friends with gifts of cookies...and raised more than $150 so less fortunate children could have a Merry Christmas.
On the morning of December 30 Elsie Clark was in the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and in trouble. The 79 year old, wheelchair bound, lady had been left at the wrong gate by a careless porter and had missed her flight home to Canada. Then she was wrongly placed on a flight to Chicago. When the flight arrived in the Windy City there was no scheduled departure to Canada until the next day. Elsie was trapped and would have been forced to spend the night in the terminal.
Dean Germeyer, who had visited with her during the flight to Chicago overheard the situation and instead...took Elsie home. His wife fed her. They took her on a guided tour of the city, placed her in a quality downtown hotel and arranged for her to be taken to her flight the next morning. As they departed, Germeyer told the elderly woman, who lives on a fixed income, not to worry about the bill as it had already been paid.
There are special acts, big and little, that are happening all around us. Shirley Johnson of Waxahachie, Texas anonymously arranged for a young friend to get a much-needed tank of gas. Someone paid for Martha Staby's 62nd wedding celebration in Loveland, Colorado. In Chevy Chase, Maryland, Patricia Jager and her husband managed to be on time for a cruise trip, only because a stranger carried the elderly couple's luggage to the ship.
All of these things happened because, even in these dark and depressing days, people care about other people. When all of our commentary and news seems to be about the degradation of mankind, it is a small joy to learn about unknown individuals reaching out to touch the lives of others.
Martha Burnham of San Saba, Texas and her granddaughter were returning home to Sweetwater three hours away, when they found their car wouldn't start. Two young men, Orrin Romine and Cody Slayton from Texas State Technical College of West Texas, asked if they could help. They discovered the starter motor needed to be replaced. Martha didn't even have the $132 it would take to replace the motor, so the boys went to a local junkyard, found a replacement part and repaired the damage. When Martha told them she would send them a check, they wouldn't even give her their address. They just said, “All we want you to do is pass the act of kindness on to someone else.”
As Koontz write, “Each small act of kindness – even just words of hope when needed or the remembrance of a birthday, a complement that engenders a smile – reverberates across great distances and spans of time, affecting lives unknown to the one whose generous spirit was the source of this good echo...”
Happy New Year.