“It made a difference to this one . . .”
I do not know who first told the story of the little boy who was throwing starfish stranded on the sand back into the ocean. What I remember is that when he was asked what difference did it make when he couldn’t help all of them, he picked one up, threw it back into the water and said, “It made a difference to this one.” And so it is that our helpful actions can make a difference too.
Like ripples in a pond, good ideas spread outward, growing and changing as they do so.
My husband and I enjoyed being a part of a giving ripple that began when a friend asked us for help. She told us about a young woman who wasn’t eligible for financial aid as a graduate student because of her DACA status. Would we be willing to join a small group of friends who would together pay her school fees? We said yes and together we were able to do what no one of us could do alone. Together we chipped in and paid her tuition each semester. And together we celebrated when she graduated.
Our daughter was responsible for another ripple. Her birthday was earlier this month. “Gifts don’t feel right this year when so many are struggling just to put food on their table,” she said. “Give the money you would spend on me to Mari instead.” Mari is a single mom with two kids, a hotel employee whose job disappeared because of the pandemic. A single mom, Mari would never ask us for money though we have known her for years, but she has appreciated the help we’ve been able to send her including Kelley’s birthday gift. It has made a difference to her.
Kelley wanted Mari to have the money we would normally spend on her birthday gift because she liked the idea of knowing who the gift was helping. And I’m thinking, perhaps that is an idea whose time has come.
The need in this country is so great that just thinking about it can be overwhelming. We know that food banks desperately need donations, and we are happy to add our dollars to their pool of funds. But while we know they serve the needs of many, we have no idea who we are helping. Giving to individuals provides the satisfaction of knowing about the recipients. That seems especially important when we are leading so much of our lives alone these days.
Why do just one when we can do both? Not alone, but together. Like the little boy throwing the starfish back in the water, we can’t save them all but we can help some. Giving circles of neighbors, of friends, of family can help individuals someone in that circle knows. And that can make the world a better place for all of us.
Blessings on your efforts to make a difference in more ways than one,
October 26, 2020