The Ripple Affect of Donating Leftover French Fries

8th Grade friends, Gabby & Paige

8th Grade friends, Gabby & Paige

I got a call on Wednesday from Rosemary, a woman who works in downtown Lodi. She saw something that brought her so much joy she called hoping to bring these good feelings to other people. Rosemary told me, “You know, kids don’t get the credit they deserve when they do kind things. I just saw these two girls and it made me so happy I want other people to know what these girls did.” Rosemary saw two girls, Paige and Gabby, giving food to a homeless man. It was something simple and sweet but it made a big impact. The girls didn’t do it because they were with an adult who told them to do it, they did it because they decided it was the right thing to do. They did it because they felt it was the right thing to do. Part of why I love this story is because it’s a great example of how you don’t have to do something grandiose to make an impact. Doing small kind acts every day can have a huge impact on others. You might not think those little things make a difference but they absolutely do, and they create ripple effects that bring more good to our community.

Paige and Gabby are two sweet and well spoken young ladies who go to St. Anne’s School in downtown Lodi. Paige and Gabby are in 8th grade and Wednesday was a minimum day, which for these 8th graders meant they got to enjoy the fun independence of walking to different restaurants in downtown with their friends for lunch. A few of the kids in their class went to Smack Pie, a few went to Flakos Takos, and Paige and Gabby went to Moo Moo’s. The girls got burgers and fries but weren’t able to finish everything. “We asked for a box for the fries not knowing that we were going to give it to someone less fortunate than us,” explained Paige. “We were walking out and I was just thinking aloud and I said, ‘Why don’t we give back? This is the time of lent for almsgiving and we should give back to people who are less fortunate than us.’” For any readers who aren’t familiar, almsgiving is practiced more intensely during Lent (the 40 days that start with Ash Wednesday and end with Easter), and is the act of giving to the poor. “We weren’t really seeing anyone [to give the food too] so we just thought okay, well we’ll just give it to our friends.” “But then by the bank we saw a guy laying down,” said Gabby. “And we didn’t really see him at first because he was laying down. He wasn’t really paying attention because he had a blanket over his head. So we decided to give it to him.”

This is what Rosemary saw. The girls didn’t say it, but Rosemary said that guy devoured the food. He was clearly someone who was really in need and who was really grateful. It was his response to the kind act that caught Rosemary’s attention. In my conversation with the girls, it seemed like they clearly understood that what they did was meaningful, but I don’t think they understood just how needed their good deed was. They really helped that man. Rosemary could tell by the way he reacted, and that’s what stood out. “It felt good to give back,” said Paige. “We know that we can go here and we’re very spoiled and there’s people who are less fortunate than us. It felt good giving back, even though it was just a few fries. It still felt really good.” “We felt empathy for them,” added Gabby. “God has already given us a lot and we’re already really fortunate and others aren’t as fortunate, so we should give back as much as we can.” These girls might not know how much of an impact they made, but it was also clear they don’t take their good fortune for granted.

I think it’s important to take a moment to reassure readers and point out how smart these girls are. We know homelessness is a complex issue and many people on the streets are dealing with a lot of personal issues. These young ladies did take briefly talk about only giving back to people they felt safe approaching, and that when they shared their good idea with their classmates (to give food to the homeless), they analyzed the situation and approached people in groups. The girls have both had examples of giving to those in need set by the adults in their life, so they understand how to give back and give back safely. “I’ve done it before,” explained Paige. “Like I was with my mom and we were driving to school and we had cookies in the car and we went off the freeway and we saw homeless person so we gave the cookies to them.” “We were at Target the other day and we had Cheez-Its and there was a family with a baby,” said Gabby. “They didn’t have any food so we gave them Cheez-Its and they were really happy.” As a parent, you’re always wondering if your kid are listening. They may not be listening but they’re watching.

This is a short, simple and sweet story. It’s a friendly reminder that even little acts of kindness, like giving away your fries,  can make a big difference, and that we have great kids here in town who are performing those acts of kindness everyday. So do these young ladies have any pointers on how you can give back? You betcha. “You should give back to your community because there’s people less fortunate than you. And even though you think sometimes God isn’t watching over you, he is, so you should just give back,” advises Paige. “God will appreciate any little thing you do,” agreed Gabby. “ And so will other people.” Even if you think no one’s watching, someone is almost always watching and your good deeds are always appreciated. You never know what the ripple effect of your good deed might be. I’m sure Rosemary felt really inspired by seeing those girls and making a conscious effort to give back to others that day. Other kids in Paige and Gabby’s class also decided they should do something nice. I know I’ve brought some food to homeless people since reading this and it might inspire you to do something nice, also. I love sharing stories of kids, in this case young teens, doing good and giving back because it comes from such a pure place of wanting to do good for the simple sake of doing good. How can you share more good? “Don’t think about it too much. It’s just the simple things,” says Paige. Gabby chimed in, “Just do it out of the thoughts of your heart.”