Tuesday started out as a normal Tuesday, with early breakfast, shopping for groceries for the week, then prepping and making almost 100 litres of chili for supper. At 4:30 p.m., when we were ready to serve, the dining hall was filled with people lined up, waiting to eat.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a family enter the hall. It was a young family that I knew quite well; dad, mom and two children about five and three or four years old.
At that particular time, mayhem and confusion are the rule as folks come through the serving line where it is not uncommon to feed roughly 100 folks in half an hour. You can imagine the rush, when all of a sudden, the dad and his five-year-old daughter came and stood directly in front of me in the kitchen doorway.
This little sweetie was carrying a plastic container with some coin in it which she presented to me. She wanted to give it to “the poor.” Because of the confusion of the moment and where we were standing, all I could do was give her a hug and say thank you.
A little later, I found out that her piggy bank had become full and heavy, so when asked by her mom and dad what she wanted to do with the money, expecting an answer like a toy or a treat of some kind, they were surprised when she firmly stated that she wanted to give it to help poor people.
The family stayed and visited for a long while, during which time the daughter helped dish out the ice cream desert to our clients. Many gave some very favorable comments and compliments to her for being willing to serve, they not knowing of the contribution she had made earlier.
I took a very brief look at the coins, all separated into denominations, and knew there was a substantial amount, so I told this small darling that because of her gift she had fed many, many people.
This morning, as I write this article, I counted what she gave and will let her know that with what she gave, she paid for the supper for more than 170 people with a bit left over. At five years old, I’m not sure if she has the full understanding to realize the significance of the amount, but she has to know that it was huge.
I have written many times about the generosity of the people of Central Alberta, which by the way, gives us the record for the largest amount of donated dollars per capita in all of Canada, but when a five-year-old walks in with an unsolicited or unpersuaded donation of more than $200, I stand amazed. What it shows me is that she has parents who are caring and teach their children to be likewise.
Probably because of age, her attitude was one of determination and forethought, but once the gift was given and recognized, (which made her blush a little), she seemed to serve and intently study the folks she interacted with almost with an air of indifference; not without care, but no longer dwelling on what she had given or the impact it had.
So now, how do I go about implanting in the mind of this five-year-old the tremendous impact that her gift has made to just under 200 people that rely on gifts like hers to help them stretch the few dollars that they have. A simple thank you never seems enough, but it is probably all that she would want; that and the satisfaction that her gift helped so many.
Once again I stand amazed, but this time by a five-year-old!
Chris Salomons is the kitchen co-ordinator at Potter’s Hands in Red Deer.