As we begin this season of giving I’m struck by a childhood memory that I’d like to share. Some forty or so years ago on my way home from Washington Grade School a friend and I found an envelope in front of Nelson’s Drug Store with a $10 bill in it. Excitement is hardly a strong enough word to describe the way we felt. After all, these were the days of penny candy, nickel comic books and milk money (2¢ white 3¢ chocolate). Our first instinct was to run into Nelson’s Drug Store and buy the guy out. Upon further discussion it was a race to the house to spread the good news of our newfound fortune. Now rationale is not high on a 3rd graders list when he’s packin’ a new 10 spot, but it was decided between Mom and Mr. Nelson that “the right thing to do” would be leave the money at the store for one week to see if anyone claimed it.
This story was rattled out of my memory by an ad for the Send Help Campaign. This campaign is a heartfelt gesture made by concerned citizens to stock our local food pantries when they need it most. In retrospect, an opportunity to allow our neighbors to find food where otherwise they may not. Ten dollars sent in an envelope can purchase 60 pounds of food to assist families in Washington County. Just $1 donated to the Send Help Campaign buys 6 loaves of bread, a case of soup or vegetables or 6 boxes of cereal. In this giving season it’s truly “the right thing to do.”
As for schoolwork, it suffered that week with my mind set on visiting Mr. Nelson every day after school. At the end of that week there were no takers and we were rewarded by someone’s apparent misfortune. I’d like to think that the person that lost that money forty years ago would have left it there on purpose if he or she would’ve known what joy it would bring to two young boys. There is a chance that happened.
Everyday concerned people help others and look for nothing in return. However, there’s usually acknowledgement in the form of a thank you, a hug or a very special smile. Whether it’s holding the door open for someone, helping someone who’s car is broken down or dropping off the stuffed animal or a $5 bill to the WMOA Christmas Zoo, there is a human contact and expression of gratitude. It seems that the true essence of giving goes beyond that - to give for the purpose of giving. The giver does not know the person on the other end and vice versa; the acknowledgement comes in the form of self-gratification.
After I purchased the latest Archie comic book and stuffed my pockets with jawbreakers it was suggested by one of my parents that I leave a single dollar where some other kid would find it. This was like asking Howard Hughes to start from scratch, but reluctantly I accepted the challenge and to this day assume it was successfully accomplished. I wasn’t too keen on the idea at the time, but it sure makes sense now. The surprise, the joy, the anticipation, the reward, it is all so vivid for something that happened so long ago. And if you’re reading this and saying, “Hey, that was my $10 in that envelope”, well thank you, it’s worth a lot more today.
The Send Help Food Drive is happening now. It’s a chance to put some money in an envelope and make someone’s day. You can agree with me that “it’s the right thing to do”, but if you don’t do it, your chance might blow away. Thirteen pantries in Washington and Wood counties are participating this year. All donations will stay here in our area to provide food assistance. So give all you can give and if you have a $1 left over, leave it where a kid will find it.
For more information on the Send Help Food Drive, you can contact the Marietta Community Food Pantry in the First Congregational Church at 740-373-5741 or WMOA Radio. Marietta Community Food Pantr is located at 318 Front Street, Marietta. Clearly mark your envelope for the food pantry. If you wish to contribute to other food pantries, please mail contributions to those respective addresses.