T was a mentor with Care For Kids. She had been working with a student in the younger grades for years. Her own son was just starting his high school career. Often their family would sit around the table and talk about the challenges facing so many of the kids in the mentor program. Her son seldom engaged in the conversations. She worried about the abundance in his life. “Did he know how fortunate he was?” “Was he awake to the climate of poverty in this world?” “Was he others-centered vs. self-centered?” These questions haunted her until a couple of bare feet came into view.
T picked up her son from baseball practice. She could tell he wanted to talk. He shared a story about a boy in his gym class who participated in bare feet. This day her son just walked up to him and asked him why. He confessed that he simply did not have a pair of shoes to wear. He only had one pair of hard soled shoes. The next question was, “Why don’t you just go buy a pair of tennis shoes?” And the answer rocked his world.
“We only have ten dollars to our name…I can’t spend it on shoes.”
When he finished talking, T had tears in her eyes. The tears were not for the young boy without shoes. She saw that situation many times in her volunteerism. No…the catalyst for her tears was joy. The heart of her son was awake.
Seeing empathy in her son was enough for T to give thanks…but what happened next truly amazed her. She assured her son she would reach out to the Care For Kids counselor the next day and see if there were funds for a pair of shoes. But her son would have none of that.
“I want to take care of it myself. I have some money saved. I want to do it.”
The next day he got the sizes of the barefoot boy. Later that week his sister drove him to several stores and they picked out clothes and shoes, even socks and underwear.
Eagerly and respectfully he gifted the care package to his new friend. Not much was said; but, by the end of the day the boy changed into a new set of clothes and laced up the new shoes. T’s son had talked with the other guys in the gym class and told them to lay off from the teasing…“this guy has it pretty rough.”
Today – he is ‘one of the guys’ and runs faster, plays harder and fits in just fine – – all because caring is contagious.