Lesson Learned: Giving a little can mean a lot.

This is the time of year when the red kettles come out, requests come in the mail for donations, and the mitten trees sprout in hallways at work. We buy presents for our families, secret Santa, and those we care about. We are reminded of the spirit of giving. Not everybody celebrates Christmas, but we can all benefit from the holiday season to help.

Many years ago, I was barely making ends meet as a single mom. When my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told them that I didn’t need anything, but I would really appreciate if my dad could make bunk beds for my kids. I wanted their mattresses off the floor. My dad made me nice, simple beds. That was the best present ever. Later that year, I had a temporary job where one of my co-workers realized that I didn’t have money for food until the next paycheck. He wanted to buy me groceries. My pride prevented me from accepting his offer. However, I did go to the food shelf after a hard nudge from a friend.

I am glad those times are in the past, but I won’t forget them. I will donate to a few of the national charities throughout the year to help with research, but I like to make one or two special donations here and there to a local person or group that truly needs help. For this holiday season, I bought an outfit (shirt, pants, and shoes) for an eight-year-old boy, and I gave money to the Vietnam Veterans, Chapter 470 in MN. The three men who came out for my brother’s funeral meant a great deal to me. They volunteer their time to honor a fellow soldier. I appreciate what they do, and I appreciate that they care. My donation can help pay for some of their expenses.

For giving, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. Sometimes people need a little help here and there to get their feet back on the ground. Keep your eyes open. You’ll know who they are because they won’t take advantage of what you can give. They may not accept your offer, but they will appreciate your kindness. You will make their day, and they won’t forgot it.

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