Boxes”¦ Made out of cardboard or plastic, big and small, plastered with photos of children and cries for help. Their struggle for life has to fit into this tight space, along with all their hopes and dreams. Unfortunately, there are more and more such boxes.
Do we even read anymore the words written on these boxes? Do we, out of force of habit, put some money in there, not even remembering the person it goes to? Does being charitable, in a modern world, comes down to dropping money through the hole? Are all those who give generous, and those who don’t open their wallets selfish and inhumane?
Kids today know much more than we do. They know that some of their peers are ill, that some are abandoned, and left to struggle on their own. They also know that some kids are suffering and dying. I have a feeling that I was faced with such stories much later in life.
But for that reason, I have also helped another much later than my older son.
This is a story that may help you, as a parent, to encourage your child and give him wings to do something small or big for another. I want to share this with you, as I believe that nice and positive stories encourage people to do good.
“Mom, today they set up a box in the school. Let me show you!”, says my son, a third-grader, while pulling my hand and directing me towards it.
HELP FILIP! He is gravely ill. The money is being collected so he can be helped and on the box, lays plastered a picture of a really cute boy with a smile on his face and cheerful eyes.
“Mom, please, give me some money, so I can help him”, says Stefan as he extends his hand, immediately assuming that I will pull out a wallet and give him the money he expects.
Without thinking I did reach for my bag, but I paused and thought to myself for the first time.
Is it enough to give your child some money just like that, in order to help someone? Is this the right way to teach him how to be charitable? Is it necessary to motivate him more to do something on his own for this boy?
“Son, I am proud of you for wanting to help, but if you really want to be charitable and help, you need to collect money on your own. Save some from your pocket money that you get everyday and I will double it”, I explained to him.
As we walked home, Stefan kept asking me questions about Filip’s illness: what is liver, why is it so important, how people can get liver disease and what are the treatments”¦ It was obvious that he had very carefully read all that was written on the box. At the same time, I was questioning my decision. Although I was sure it was the right thing to do, I was afraid that he, still too young, would not be motivated enough and that he might change his mind regarding collecting money to help Filip.
I decided to wait for two days, and if nothing happened, I would give him the money anyway.
However, that night Stefan made me feel ashamed of myself.
After school he didn’t come home straight away. Instead, he stayed with his friends who live in our street. It was slowly getting dark when they rang a doorbell.
Aleksa, Coka, Andreja, Sale, Maša and Stefan, unkempt, with muddy clothes and serious faces, held something in hands they called a “bunch of flowers”. It was rather a few field flowers and a lot of grass with roots and soil still on them, tied with rubber band for jars.
They were all talking in one voice: “Buy these flowers. Tomorrow we will take the money to school to help our friend Filip get better. The bouquet costs as much as you can give.”
I hardly fought back the tears.
That night, instead of a bedtime story, Stefan delightedly told me how they all got together, what deals they made, who chose the flowers, who tied the bouquets, who was collecting money, who will put the money in the box tomorrow”¦” He’s also planning to add some more from his pocket money”, he told me, explaining that he doesn’t have to buy anything for lunch tomorrow. “We have only four lessons and I will not be so hungry”…
I just wished to myself that they stay good like this forever.
I wonder what happens to us when we lose what they have. Now, when they are just kids…
The next day, they brought all the money to school and carefully put it into the box. A few days later, the box was gone. Every day Stefan inquired if there was any news about Filip. Unfortunately, he read the sad news that the little hero has passed away. He withdrew to his room and cried for hours…
A few months later he had a test in school where he was required to write an essay on the topic: “I did something good“. He wrote about Filip. At the end of his essay there was a wonderful sentence:
I wish Filip could have made bouquets with us. I wish he could have played with us and ran with us in the woods. I will never forget him.