More than a year ago, I wrote a column about the impact that an individual can have on the wider community, “You Might Be That Person.” Someone, operating in the shadows, took it to heart and just committed a huge act of random kindness.
I won’t get into the details here, but I’m working on a story about what this person’s (or group’s) actions will mean to many area residents in the future. Believe me, I have no inside track on their identity and I’m completely in the dark, too.
But I will share something that happened a little more than a week ago during a public event. This guy who everybody knows, somebody who lives on Dog Hill, thanked me for a recent column. I won’t embarrass him by mentioning his name, but I really needed a kind word at the time.
It’s funny how kindness often sticks to the shadows.
Feeding the Lord’s sheep can take many forms, my friends.
There is a local restaurant that hasn’t been in business that long. While it will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, its owners and staff invited a few residents to share a holiday meal with them in private.
The Methodist church in town often holds a dollar dinner, and the Redbank Valley Community Center is following suit. Imagine what that can do for somebody who can’t afford to eat out very often, if at all. I suspect there’s a good chance that “one of those people” will even pick up the one-dollar tabs.
A trust fund set up by one of my late elementary teachers has saved the day more than once for a local community institution. Marjorie Himes was one of the good ones, as a group of friends likes to say.
I remember a young man working at a McDonald’s drive-through window in Somerset one wintry day more than 20 years ago. He added milk and sugar to my coffee so I wouldn’t have to do it myself. I felt like the Queen of Sheba as I headed down the turnpike toward a dreaded tunnel.
And then there was the time when I was shoveling my driveway during a Cambria County snowstorm because my landlady’s snow blower was out of commission. A random guy, driving down the road with a blade on the front of his truck, whipped into the parking area and finished the job in one or two swipes.
Howling into the wind, I may have asked him to marry me. I had a boyfriend living in the D.C. area at the time, but never mind. This is all theoretical, you know.
When I lived in State College, Ye Olde College Diner had a tradition of serving Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner all day long for 50 cents. It was a complete dinner, not a sad and soggy sandwich, with all the trimmings. The owner at the time, a transplanted French pastry chef, made awesome pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.
In turn, there were more than a few servers who found $20 bills tucked under plates when it came time to clear the tables.
With these memories lingering in the back of my sometimes-erratic brain, I understand what prompted an unknown benefactor to bestow a very nice monetary blessing on two local organizations. It is an expression of thanksgiving that means more than a turkey consumed and then forgotten.
Even though I refuse to watch television news, I can be infected by the negativity swirling around Americans these days. Fortunately, there are still people in the world who come equipped with their own special kind of anti-venom.
A couple of weeks ago, I shared my occasional column-writing struggles. Not this week. Today I have wings on my fingers.
So, for all the unsung heroes and committers of random acts of kindness out there, I will be saying a prayer of thanksgiving for you on November 28. There is a very good chance that many of you will be out saving somebody’s life or home, feeding people you don’t even know or protecting our nation from the bad guys.
Happy Thanksgiving. It is the deed that makes the day, not vice versa.
[Susan Kerr is a semi-retired freelance writer living in her hometown of New Bethlehem. Previously, she was the managing editor of a regional-interest magazine and a business journal in State College.]