Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pay it Forward or a Helping Hand in Real Life

I keep finding postings about positive people helping out people in need.  I know many of them are fakes, but still make you think and are a good read.  However, I can tell a real story about unexpected help we have received in the last 6 months.  It may not be as well written as the stories usually posted, but at least they are real.

Our newborn was underweight and losing weight every day.  If she did not put on weight she had to go back to the hospital.  We had to put her onto formula, something we had not budgeted for.  She had nipple confusion and would not take the breast.  I talked about it on Facebook, I was very worried about having to put her onto formula and upset that I was not doing my job as a mom and breastfeeding her.  One lady in our area had a huge bag of formula that her baby was unable to eat.  Her family gave us the unopened cans of formula.  My daughter could eat it and put on weight.  There was enough formula that it got us to when we had money again.  Their kindness made a big impact on the life of my family. 

With a new born Christmas was very tight, but we expected that and made plans and budgeted for it.  We let our kids know that they would not be getting very much and they needed to pick one special toy they wanted for Christmas.  On the day we were told we had to put our newborn on formula we used our budgeted Christmas money to buy bottles, formula and a breast pump.  At the time I felt like a huge failure because I could not breast feed my baby and that took away the special toys our kids had asked for Christmas.  Just before Christmas a Christmas card showed up in my mail with a prepaid credit card with $50 on it.  This really helped us out.  We used it to buy the toys special to our kids.  It also let our kids buy a gift for each other, something they really wanted to do.  A small gesture made a big impact.  I don’t know how much the $50 meant to the person who gave it to us; I just know how big of a difference it made to us.

For my daughter’s birthday we told her no party this year and we would have to wait a couple of weeks to do something as a family.  Our daughter understood, and I never told anyone, not even family, about the difficulty we were having.  Out of the blue a few days before my daughter’s birthday a gift arrived, $50.  It gave us what we needed to do what she wanted on her birthday, to eat out at a specific restaurant, and still buy groceries for the next two weeks.  Again someone made a huge difference to our lives just because they wanted to.  It may seem like a small thing, being able to take our daughter out on her birthday, but it was a huge thing for her.  It made her feel important and loved.  With a new baby in the house she needs all the reminders we can give her that she is still valued, important and loved.

I never asked for help.  I don’t sit around with my hand out waiting for someone to make my life better.  But I am willing to accept kindness for my children.  I have no pride when it comes to my kids, if my pride has to go so my children can have what they need, so be it.  They always come first.

I do see this as what goes around comes around.  In the past I was able to pay it forward, or be that helping hand many times.  I have been told that I can be a soft touch, and have a hard time seeing people in need.  There were many times when money found its way into the hands of those in need, family, friends and strangers.  Many invites for lunch or dinner were given with lots of leftovers when we knew someone was running low on food.  Sometimes it was as simple as paying for the meal of the family behind us in line at a fast food place.  When we had our business we would often suddenly need “staff” when people really needed some real money.  They would work the weekend with us and would have the money they needed without feeling they were taking charity (and they actually did do work for us).
When we lost the business and moved into this complex we would to buy hotdogs when they went on sale, and fill our freezer with them.  It was not uncommon all summer long for the kids in our neighbourhood to show up whenever we turned on the BBQ.  They knew we would put on several packages of hotdogs, and they could eat.  For some of the kids it was the only food they would get during the day.  We knew that, and made sure they ate.  Heck we even bought a deep fryer because a bag of potatoes was cheap and make a lot of French-fry’s.  It is not something our family talks about, we just did it because we could.  Sometimes they would show up for dinner too.  Those kids don’t live here anymore, but we helped them out when they did.  It was nice to be able to make a difference in someone’s life.  I never expected to be on the other side, but I am grateful that I was.

Times are getting harder, more families are in need.  I see requests on Freecycle for food, and formula, clothing and more all the time.  It makes me sad that so many people are in need.  I hope to be able to repay the unexpected gifts of money one day when things change and I am working again.  Hopefully when it is need the most. 

I grew up poor.  I am poor now.  I expect to die poor.  But at least I am in good company!


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