Day 699: Neighbour, neighbour

housesYou know how you can walk down the same street a thousand times and never give the people inside the houses you pass a second thought? (Unless maybe they’re sitting on their porch in their underwear glaring at you over the railing, in which case you vow never to take that route again… but I digress.)

My husband and I took a stroll last night and when we were passing a house we’ve walked by many times, this time we stopped. An elderly lady had pushed her screen door ajar and was peeking out and motioning us to come up to the house.

I, being me, hesitated… whereas my husband immediately led us up to the lady’s front porch to see if she needed help.

As we got closer, the lady looked distressed. She reminded me of my mother — same age, same strong Italian head of snowy white hair — but her eyes were so pleading, so vulnerable, a lump rose in my throat. We got to the porch and she was still motioning for us to come in and I thought she was confusing us for someone else.

Almost in a whisper, I heard her say, “I have coffee.” Again, waving us to come inside.

A young Filipino woman at the back of the yard, stopped mowing the grass and walked up to us. We asked her if everything was okay and she smiled and said not to worry, that she was with the lady of the house. Then it finally hit me that she wasn’t the neighbour at all, but the caregiver and the lady at the door was in her care.

My husband and I waved goodbye to them both and kept walking. We walked in silence for a bit, both touched by the fragility of a neighbour we might never have met. I still can’t get the look in her eyes out of my mind.

You never know the private heartbreak or loneliness or illness that someone could be suffering right next door. I’m going to try to be a better neighbour and pay more attention from now on.

P.S.

Six months or so left to his life and this Barrie, Ontario, man is using it to help others… wow.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1

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Day 698: Good Samaritan gives his shoes to barefoot bus passenger

I just read this story on the CBC news website and just had to share.

A true good samaritan. Enjoy!

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Muslim man performs deed and disappears, but Coast Mountain bus driver takes his picture

CBC News

A Good Samaritan, right, got off a bus shoeless after giving his pair of shoes to a barefoot man, left, last Saturday.

A Good Samaritan, right, got off a bus shoeless after giving his pair of shoes to a barefoot man, left, last Saturday. (Surjit Virk)

An off-duty Coast Mountain bus driver said it was a ride he’ll never forget, after seeing a stranger give the shoes off his feet to a barefoot passenger in Surrey, B.C.

Surjit Singh Virk was using bus transit to get home from the Vasakhi parade last Saturday when he saw a man take off his shoes and slide them to another man who immediately started putting them on.

Surjit Virk

Surjit Singh Virk, an off-duty bus driver, witnessed the random act of kindness and said he hopes the story inspires others to be kind. (CBC)

Virk took a picture.

He says it was cold and raining, but the Good Samaritan said, “Don’t worry about me, I live close by.”

Virk says the man didn’t want to take any credit. He just did the deed and got off the bus.

It turns out the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, is a 27-year-old Surrey resident who volunteers at the local mosque. He says good deeds like this are part of his Islamic faith.

The B.C. Muslim Association’s Aasim Rashid describes him as “a nice quiet gentleman who is a practising Muslim.”

“Actions always speak louder than words,” Rashid points out. “It’s easy to sit on the pulpit and preach about doing good things, but sometimes one kind gesture like this has a greater impact.”

Virk says it was a pure act of kindness.

“I think he didn’t want anybody to see him doing it,” he said. “He was simply doing it without anybody knowing it, but I happened to be sitting at the right place at the right moment, and I grabbed the moment.”

The story is similar to one in Winnipeg two years ago, when a bus driver gave the shoes off his feet to a passenger in need. 

Virk hopes the publicity in this story inspires others to be kind.

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Day 697: The Christmas Jar

9706af1af81262b359949667862e6e04I know it’s almost Easter, not Christmas, but hey, better late than never.

Even though this idea has apparently been around for years, it’s the first time I’ve seen it. And of course now I want to do it!

And there are still eight months left before Christmas! :)

Check it out:

A Christmas Jar or Holiday Money Jar is a wonderful tradition to help spread the holiday spirit and encourage random acts of kindness. Consider starting a new family tradition this year, pass on the spirit of the holiday and give a money jar anonymously to someone who could really use one.

If you are looking for ways to create holiday memories with your children and a tradition that can be carry on for many years, read more about the Christmas Jar, Anonymous Holiday Money Jar or if you want to be politically correct, the Ramahanukwanzmas Jar.

The Christmas Jar tradition started in 2005 by author Jason F. Wright with his family. He went on to publish his family’s idea in the book Christmas Jars which became a New York Times Best Selling Book.

Source.

P.S. I know everyone and their third cousin is making “Happy” videos these days, but this one’s my favourite so far. Enjoy!

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Day 696: Hunger pains

FoodBankSorry guys, don’t know where March went… I was frozen like a popsicle the whole month, I do know that.

When my office had a volunteer day at the Daily Bread Food Bank recently, I was struck by something one of the organizers there told us. After our group had finished sorting donated food, stacking boxes and labelling them, he showed us where the boxes would go next — into a giant warehouse, stocked to the roof with food donations.

The shocking part was when he told us that certain times of the year, the entire warehouse is empty. That’s when they have to launch a new food drive and get the word out that donations are desperately needed. It really brought home the great need out there.

I also wanted to share this lovely thank you letter from a mom who not only benefited from a random act of kindness, but also shares what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a food program. There but for the grace of God….

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grocerybillDear woman behind me in line at the grocery store,

You don’t know me. You have no clue what my life has been like since October 1, 2013. You have no clue that my family has gone through the wringer. You have no clue that we have faced unbelievable hardship. You have no clue we have been humiliated, humbled, destitute.

You have no clue I have cried more days than not; that I fight against bitterness taking control of my heart. You have no clue that my husband’s pride was shattered. You have no clue my kids have had the worries of an adult on their shoulders. You have no clue their innocence was snatched from them for no good reason. You know none of this.

What you do know is I tried to buy my kids some food and that the EBT machine was down so I couldn’t buy that food. I didn’t have any cash or my debit card with me. I only had my SNAP card. All you heard was me saying “No, don’t hold it for me. My kids are hungry now and I have no other way of paying for this.” You didn’t judge me. You didn’t snarl “Maybe you should have less kids.” You didn’t say “Well, get a job and learn to support yourself.” You didn’t look away in embarrassment or shame for me. You didn’t make any assumptions at all.

What you did was you paid that $17.38 grocery bill for us. You gave my kids bananas, yogurt, apple juice, cheese sticks, and a peach ice tea for me; a rare treat and splurge. You let me hug you and promise through my tears that I WILL pay this forward. I WILL pay someone’s grocery bill for them. That $17.38 may not have been a lot for you, but it was priceless to us. In the car my kids couldn’t stop gushing about you; our “angel in disguise.” They prayed for you. They prayed you would be blessed. You restored some of our lost faith. One simple and small action changed our lives. You probably have forgotten about us by now, but we haven’t forgotten about you. You will forever be a part of us even though we don’t even know your name.

You have no clue how grateful and embarrassed I am that we pay for all our food with SNAP. We eat well thanks to the government. I love that. I love that the government makes sure my kids are cared for. It is one less worry for us. I also struggle with pride and embarrassment. I defiantly tell people we are on SNAP. Daring them to judge us.

Only those closest to us know why we are on SNAP. They know my husband is a hard worker who was laid off after 17 years in a management position with his former company. They know we were moved from our home to a new state only to be left homeless since the house we had came with the job he lost. Only those closest to us know my husband works part time while looking tirelessly for more; that he has submitted more applications than he has received interviews for. Too many jobs are only offering part time work anymore. It is not easy for a 40-something year old to find a job that will support his family of five kids.

You know none of this but you didn’t let that stop you from being compassionate and generous to someone you have never met.

To the woman behind me at the grocery store, you have no idea how much we appreciate you. You have no idea the impact you had on my kids. You have no idea how incredibly thankful I am for you. Your action may have been small, but to us it was monumental. Thank you.

Thank you for not judging us. Thank you for giving my kids a snack when they were quite hungry. Thank you. Just thank you.

Forever,

Andrea, the woman in front of you at the grocery store with the cart full of kids who are no longer hungry.

This post first appeared on Andrea’s blog truestoriesofamidwestyankee.wordpress.com

P.S. Song for the day, enjoy!

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Day 695: Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day

11863201-valentine-tree-with-hearts-leaves-and-birds

Click 4 source.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

To me, this day isn’t just about romantic love for your sweetheart (although that’s important too)… it’s also about letting your nearest and dearest know how much you care about them. Especially those who are on their own.

So when I heard about this great program on CBC radio this morning called “Sonnets by Kids for Valentine’s Day,” I knew I had to send one to my brother, because (a) it would confuse the heck out of him; (b) I love Shakespeare and I hope he does too; and (c) I do want to let him know I’m thinking about him.

On Valentine’s Day, for just $25 (which supports Shakespeare in Action’s educational programs), a lovely Shakespeare Kid volunteer (age 7 to 12) will call your Valentine person and recite the sonnet of your choice (either 18, 24, 29 or 116). They’ll also mail a copy of the sonnet to them.

Awesome idea, right?!

Here’s a video of the Shakespeare Kids in Action:

Here’s the sonnet I sent, more here:

sonnet29

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Day 694: Coats for Syria

My bundle of winter wear.

My bundle of winter wear.

We have some lovely peeps in our office. Two so far have grown their hair then cut it to donate to cancer patients. And now, another coworker has volunteered to collect coats, scarves, boots, and other winter wear and bring it to the drop off at Sunnybrook Hospital for the Coats From Canada drive.

Dr. Jay Dahman and paramedic Mark Cameron at Sunnybrook — both members of the Canadian International Medical Relief Organization (CIMRO)  —  initiated the clothing drive to get winter clothing to those in need in  war-torn Syria.

Cameron told CBC News: “We’ve seen kids without shoes walking barefoot in the snow without winter coats, without hats, without toques, mitts and so forth and frankly many of them are dying every night there as we speak.” And on the CIMRO Facebook page: “Syrian kids are dying of hypothermia on a daily basis.” They’ve both been to Syria several times, to care for the wounded.

We’ve all been complaining about the “polar vortex” and what a brutal winter this has been, but we have the advantage of living in a peaceful country and, for most of us, having at least a coat and shoes, if not snow boots.

So I can’t even imagine what it must be like for the Syrians right now.

10dollarbillI bundled up what I could from my closet and got myself a bonus in the process. In one of the coats I was donating, I found an old $10 bill … guess I should donate that as well.

Learn more (or find out how to make a donation) here.

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Day 693: British man reunites with “Mike” — the good samaritan who talked him out of suicide in 2008

I’ve been following this story ever since I watch this initial video:

And like so many others who saw it, I shared the story with my friends in the U.K.

Well, so many people did share that “Mike” was finally found. Yay!!! Here’s the video!

Here’s a recap of the whole story:

Earlier this month, a man from the U.K. named Jonny Benjamin started a social media campaign called #FindMike to track down the stranger who convinced him not to end his life in 2008.

This week, Benjamin found “Mike,” whose real name is Neil Laybourn, according to Rethink Mental Illness, the organization that helped launch Benjamin’s search. In the video above, you can watch the men’s heartwarming reunion.

It was Laybourn’s fiancee who saw Benjamin’s story and made the connection, BBC News reported. Laybourn quickly reached out.

Benjamin also filmed a YouTube video about his search and wrote a blog post for The Huffington Post UK — all so he could thank the good Samaritan who stopped him from jumping off the Waterloo Bridge in London six years ago.

“You can tell he just understands and he doesn’t judge,” Benjamin says in the video above. “He just sits there with this kind of big smile, I think everyone could do with a friend like Neil.”

I only hope I’d be as brave and compassionate as Mike if I saw someone in need.

Need help? In Canada, call 911 or find a crisis line in your area, here. In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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