As we approach Thanksgiving Day, most of us have plenty to be thankful for. But the fact is many people are hurting financially. 2012 has been another tough year. Jobs lost. Bills unpaid. Just about everything costs more. A lot of people need a lot of help.
Last week Channel 8 started a project none of us dreamed would hit such a nerve. We call it a “Random Act of Kindness”. Very simple. We take just $250, knock on a needy person’s door, hand them the cash, and then see what happens.
How would they respond?
To be honest, I was skeptical at first. $250? Not enough, I thought, to make a difference. They would grab the money, mumble a quick thanks, and close the door on us. Or they would be too proud to accept the gift. Boy was I ever wrong.
We heard that Desiree and her husband Donnie and three kids needed help. Donnie works two jobs, Desiree works, goes to school and takes care of the kids. On top of that they took in a family of six whose house burned. 11 people living in a rural home no bigger than a thousand square feet. Yeah, they needed help, and I could see it on her face when I met her one afternoon on the old wooden front porch of their home.
- Me: “Well times are tough and we know you need to catch a break. And we want to help out a bit, so here’s $250 from Channel 8.”
- Desiree: “Are you serious?”
- Me: “I’m serious.”
- Desiree: “Oh my god. Oh my god. Are you serious? Thank you so much.”
- Me: “You’re welcome. Hopefully that can help out.”
- Desiree: “More than you know. More than you know.”
Widow in need
A few days after meeting Desiree, I was knocking on Gail’s apartment door. All I knew is her husband suffered from dementia for years. She took care of him, as the bills piled up. He died two weeks ago, and now Gail was not only struggling with paying her utilities and keeping her car working, she was struggling with loneliness.
- Me: “You’ve taken care of people and now you need someone to take care of you. We’d like to give you $250.”
- Gail: “(sobbing) Are you sure?”
- Me: “I’m sure.”
- Gail: “Thank you.”
Paying it forward
This afternoon I got a call from one of our viewers who saw Gail’s story. “I want to pay one of her funeral bills,” she told me, “or a utility bill.” Another came by the TV station with a check for $250. He was so moved by what he saw that he wanted to help someone else in need. People hurting. Others helping out. It’s as simple as that. Something to think about this holiday season.