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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Valentine

The Kindness of Strangers

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. - Princess Diana

Celebrating the King birthday brings to mind the many times we benefitted from the kindness of strangers. A kindness that would probably be rare if advances hadn’t been made by right minded people of all colors to push for civil rights laws and then the decision to live it out in their personal lives. We like to focus on Dr. King at this time of year and his contributions are certainly noteworthy, but the sacrifices made by the common men and women who had the courage to choose the uncomfortable position of doing what is right are the people I also celebrate.

Many people in our life took that stance and I hope to be able to mention them in this blog. Today I want to thank Mrs. Hayes (changed name for the purposes of this blog), who was my youngest son’s kindergarten teacher. He had to start in private school because his birthday was too late to start public school the year he turned 5 years old. There is an age requirement for kindergarten and first grade in our state, but not for second grade so it is not unusual for children to go to private school for the first two years and then switch to public school for the second grade.

There is a small private Christian school near our home. They were very professional and kind. More importantly, they used the same Abeka curriculum we benefitted from in preschool. The rules of the school included the possibility of the children being paddled if a transgression required it. (They would call the parent and ask if you wanted someone at the school to do the paddling or if you wanted to.) Needless to say, education was the focus and there was no nonsense to be tolerated.

This was a smooth transition from his nursery because that was also a Christian environment. There was no concern about him being treated fairly, even though he was one of the two brown babies in the class. Mrs. Hayes greeted him with open arms and he thrived in this environment. I typically didn’t introduce myself as the single mother, but when you are the only one showing up, it becomes evident pretty quickly. Mrs. Hayes told me that her church was putting Thanksgiving food boxes together and was wondering if I would be interested in receiving one. She didn’t want to insult me, but wanted to make this available. I thanked her and said yes. We were always neat and current with our tuition, but a single mom with three children can always use food. My approach is to always accept anything that something is willing to give me (food, clothes, furniture). Whatever I don’t think I can use I just pass on to someone else.

Not only was she making sure that I got one of the boxes, she was going to bring it to my house. This was unexpected, but greatly appreciated. So I was expecting a box with some canned goods. Mrs. Hayes showed up and had to make 3 trips to the car to bring everything in - a whole chicken, fresh cabbage, fresh fruit, a loaf of bread, a box of cookies and other goodies. I am sharing the items to convey that it was more than just a box of canned goods which we would have been very grateful for. The most important thing that we received that day was the kindness of a person who didn’t have to care and certainly didn’t have to go out of her way to bless us. It was a good opportunity to talk to the fellas who were ages 9, 7, and 5 at that time about how we live out our Christianity, by blessing other people.

I would encourage you to find an opportunity to reach out to others this way. The benefits are long- lasting.

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