This is a follow-up to two previous articles I wrote recently about extreme on-the-spot giving. In the first article I told the tale of the time when a customer at my hot dog cart walked up to me, told me that I was blessed, and handed me a twenty-dollar bill. Not long after, a man crossed traffic and came up to the hot dog cart to tell me that he had heard about my first article and that it had really moved him. He then handed me a one-hundred-dollar bill, turned back to his vehicle and drove off. That should catch you up in case you have not been following this developing story.
Ever since I got the outrageously generous gift of one hundred dollars, I have been looking for the right person to pass that gift along to and a few weeks ago I found her. I was at the Memphis International Airport coming home from a reunion of my Army buddies when I noticed a young child playing in the open area around the departure gates. This young fellow was all energy and I rightly suppose that mom was letting him burn off some of his energy before having to be seated for a good long while.
After a few minutes of watching this youngster I couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing a St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital shirt. St. Jude’s is near and dear to my heart because when I was teaching, my fifth graders participated in a fundraiser called the Math-A-Thon to raise money for the hospital. Over the years and with all of my classes combined, we raised over $15,000 for St. Jude’s. This is a small part of what makes it possible for the families of patients to never get a bill.
As I was waiting for my boarding group to shuffle on the plane, out of the corner of my eye I noticed that the young fellow’s mom was also wearing a St. Ju de’s shirt. She had a matching bag as well. My thinking was that her son was a legit patient at the hospital, but I had to make sure. When my boarding group was called, I remember thinking to myself that this could be the one I have been looking for, but I probably won’t be seated anywhere near her and that just wouldn’t work. Well, I was wrong about that. The mom and the son were seated right across the aisle from me. All I had to do now was find the right moment to change their lives.
It was a short flight and just as we were starting to make our way off the plane, I finally swelled up the courage to ask her about her St. Jude’s gear. She said that her son was a patient there and that was all I needed to hear. I reached in my wallet, pulled out the one-hundred-dollar bill and tried to hand it to her. She immediately refused, said it was too much, and told me to just give it to charity. My response was, “You don’t understand. This was given to me so that I could give it to you. Just take it.” And then it was as if time stopped for just a moment. Even with the Covid mask covering her face I could tell that my mission was a complete success. Her eyes swelled up – and mine did too – and she took the gift. It was the look of pure joy on her face that I will never forget.
Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine being able to give like I did that day. When I received that money, I was emotional, surprised and a bit confused, but that pales in comparison to the feeling I had after giving the money. It was elating, all the way from the build-up to the hand-off. I felt like I had really made an impact and The Holy Spirit was indeed in that space and time. Hopefully I will be in a position like this again sometime soon. Jerry Lewis used to say, “Give ‘till it hurts” during his Labor Day telethons. I say, “Give ‘till it feels good. And then do it again. And again…”
Alan Shoalmire is a resident in Grimes County and the owner of Grill Sergeant and submits a column to the Navasota Examiner every other week.