The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

The Gift of Giving

Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.

~Albert Schweitzer

Ever since the death of my twenty-eight-year-old son Don, Jr., I have given a donation at Christmas or on his birthday in his loving memory. In past years, I had help from the Internet grief support group that I’d found the year of his passing. At Christmas we would pick a family in need and buy them gifts, or make baby blankets and quilts for a hospital, or donate books or art supplies to a school in need. Our projects were varied, and after we voted, we would all chip in to make magic happen in memory of our children.

A few years ago, after our group dwindled down to five and the money wasn’t as easy to come by, we decided to discontinue our projects at Christmas time. One of our members lost her husband, so the rest of us voted to send her the remaining money in our Sunshine Fund that we used for our projects. The money helped her pay for his funeral, since his passing was sudden and unexpected. We told each other that we still could do small projects and the money would come out of our own pockets at the time of the donation. If one of the moms wanted to do a project on her child’s birthday, we would vote on it and see if we were in agreement and able to help the mom with the expense of her donation.

In the past, I had made several donations on my son’s October birthday and had the help of my online friends. I knew, however, that a big donation would put a burden on most of our group since many of us were struggling to keep gas in our cars and food on our tables, and were existing on our Social Security checks alone. With Don’s birthday drawing near, I knew it would be difficult to find the money to make a substantial donation in his memory.

Then I remembered a story I’d read and a line from that story kept flashing in my mind: “You’re never so poor you have nothing to give.” Where was that story? I got out my Chicken Soup for the Soul books and began to investigate.

Oh, yes . . . it had to be in the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings book! Sure enough, I came across the story, (perhaps with a little divine help), titled “Never Too Poor To Give.” I knew there had to be a project that I could afford to do. I just had to put on my thinking cap!

Since my husband is dealing with cancer and chemotherapy treatments, we spend a lot of time in waiting rooms. It dawned on me that there were a lot of other people there at the same time as us. Most were waiting to get into their chemotherapy chairs for their treatments. Others were family members, passing the time waiting for their loved ones to finish so they could transport them home.

Books! That’s what Drema, who wrote the story, found that she could pass on to others! I had books I had finished, so I gathered them up to take to the chemotherapy rooms and leave for the patients there.

On one of my trips with my husband, I noticed several children in the waiting rooms. That’s when I got the idea to create “coloring packs” for them to use as they waited. I could go on the Internet to find free coloring pages and print them out for the children. I also purchased some very reasonable coloring books, which came in “party favor” packs of four for a dollar. I packed Ziploc bags with a coloring book, a few coloring pages, and a handful of crayons. I made them for girls and boys and I used popular movie and cartoon characters. I had such fun doing this, and as I thought of the children receiving them and the smiles on their previously bored faces as they waited, it made me so happy!

As I write this story, October is very near, and my supply of gifts is growing. When my online mom’s group heard what I was doing, some sent me crayons and small coloring books, and one mom sent a check to help me buy more printer ink for my pages!

I am excited to take the books to the oncologist’s chemotherapy room and the “coloring activity packs” to the hospital waiting area for children to use. I am sure the volunteers there will be happy to give them out as needed! And what a warm feeling in my heart as I carry on our projects to honor our wonderful children, at a very low cost.

It is true. “You’re never so poor you have nothing to give.” And if my resources run out, I can always give my time. There are people who need rides to chemotherapy.

~Beverly F. Walker

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