A dollar to help the flood victims of Harvey doesn’t seem like much. I add it to my total, just as I do at the pet store to help homeless pets. Or wherever else I may be.
I am rarely, if ever, in a position to write a big fat check. The kind of check that delivers the kind of help I’d like to send — to deliver meaningful amounts of food to the hungry. Healthcare to the sick. Security to a child.
Instead, I have to help in tiny increments. A fundraiser here, a donation there. And I hope that when pooled with the other nickels and dimes, it adds up to something. That somehow, it will be enough.
They say that it’s the people with the least who give the most. I’ve seen it time and time again: friends with less give more: if not a higher dollar total, a much higher percentage of what they have. I suppose it’s because many of them know, as I have recently learned, that charities take on a whole new meaning when you’re on the receiving end.
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During the months that we were deep into a rough patch of my daughter’s serious (but non life-threatening) illness, we were greeted time and time again with the kindness of others.
The first time I experienced this, my daughter was in for a variety of tests. We explained her plight — chronic stomach pain and a spell of vomiting every single time she ate. The nurse left the room, returning with an armload of blankets. Handmade quilts, of all different shapes and sizes. She told my daughter to choose one, explaining they had been provided by Project Linus, an organization that simply provides handmade blankets to children in need.
My daughter chose a patchwork throw of bold, red, white and black blocks, and pulled it tight around her. She toted it with her on the numerous ER trips, doctor’s visits, and hospital stays. She held it near on the sofa watching TV, and now that she’s improved, she still sleeps under it every night. It has truly lived up to its name and intention, providing her a bit of warmth and comfort when those things were so confusing to her.
Several weeks later, when she was admitted for a stay of several days, we ate meals in the Ronald McDonald Room and visited service dogs who brighten the day of sick children. An older gentleman dropped into our room and showed her how to make a garland by cutting a piece of paper a certain way, which she hung on her IV tree.
The parents’ lounge was stocked with donated items and snacks. Every turn we made, there was evidence that someone wanted to relieve our difficulties just a tad. In whatever way they could, big or small.
We’ve seen footage of people driving their boats to Houston to rescue flood victims. Video of people helping in small ways: pulling a cat out of a house, returning a fish to deeper waters, or, more significantly, rescuing a stranded person.
So few of us have the ability to truly provide all that someone in need would require to get out of a tough spot. But we all have the ability to do a small part - something seemingly so small it wouldn’t even seem to matter. But it is something. And if everyone gives something - when it’s added up and combined with other programs and resources and the watchful eye of those who care, it might just be enough.
I’ve stopped asking myself, “What good is this small contribution?” and have replaced that question with, “What small contribution can I make next?”
Reach Emily Parnell at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @emilyjparnell