There was a turning point in my childhood that took me from being a rich spoiled little girl to having a desire to give and help those less fortunate than myself. And I have to thank my grandmother for that.
A Rich Little Girl
During this time in my life, I lived in Guatemala with my grandmother and by Guatemalan standards, I was very well off. Christmas for me was opulent–I had received more toys than I knew what to do with. I was about seven at the time. I remember I received a toy that I had asked for, but it was the wrong kind. They got me the wrong Ken doll and I was very upset. Santa was going to pay. I threw a temper tantrum and my grandmother took me to the store to exchange it for the right one.
A Little Orphan Boy
When we arrived at Pais (the department store), a woman stopped us and pointed to a little homeless orphan boy, probably my age, who was missing his legs. She asked us if we could make a food donation to help him. My grandmother put that decision on my shoulders and gave me a choice: we can exchange your Ken doll and get you the one you want, or we can exchange your Ken doll and buy this boy some groceries. As upset as I was about the Ken doll, I looked at that boy and the choice was clear. It was as if something completely changed inside me. I helped my grandma pick the groceries and I was super excited about giving this boy that which we had purchased. For the price of that Ken doll, we were able to give him several bags of food, including a gallon of milk. I still remember his sweet little face upon receiving it all. I never thought about the Ken doll again.
A Priceless Gift
I often think back to that moment in my childhood. I think about the lesson my grandmother taught me. She was not your typical grandmother. She did not bake cookies; she was a stickler for etiquette at the table (God forbid you put your elbows on the table); she did not take me to the park nor swing me on the swing…but she gave me that gift. She taught me to give and to think about others less fortunate than myself. And I think that gift is worth more than anything else she could have given me.
The Lesson Continues
Because that happened when I was so young, I have made it a point to teach my now five-year-old daughter about giving. I started shortly after she was able to talk. The other day, I asked her if she could draw a picture for the little boy we sponsor in Nicaragua. She came back with an envelope and told me it was for the boy. In it was a picture and some dollar bills with coins. I asked her where she got the money from and she told me “from my piggy bank.”
It is never too early to teach children about giving and it is a lesson they will carry with them for life.Proverbs 14:21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy [is] he.