After work yesterday, I saw him standing there on the corner of Wells and Superior. Even though the bright afternoon sun washed over him, he looked cold, as if he had been standing there for hours. He held a small cardboard sign with something written in faded ink. My eyes couldn’t make out the words. People motored by without even a glance.

Some invisible force tugged on my heartstrings. My car was suddenly parked in the empty car lot next to where the man was standing. I reached into my wallet and grabbed what little cash I had (I never carry cash, so even a little was a miracle).

“Good afternoon, ma’am!” he cheerfully said as I walked up to him. Fumbling for the right way to start the conversation, I blurted, “Do you need some money?” He stammered something I didn’t quite understand before acquiescing with a “That’s mighty nice of you, ma’am.”

“It’s not much, but it’ll buy you a warm meal or two,” I said as I handed him two five-dollar bills. Without even looking to see how much money was there, tears welled up in his eyes.

His voice cracked as he told me how he used to work full-time at the local General Motors plant making almost $20 an hour. Then the economy tanked, and he was laid off. He has been looking for work ever since, he said, but no one will hire him. I told him that I understood and hoped things turned around for him soon.

“God bless you, ma’am. Thank you. Thank you,” he said with a smile. He watched me get in my car and waved as I drove away.

Does this story sound familiar? Reflect back on the first time you extended your hand to someone just for the sake of it. Remember the power in that genuine expression of goodwill and compassion. That small moment of a single gesture. Now consider passing it on to kids around the globe.

My friends at Impact 52 are Kickstarting their first children’s book about one girl who experiences the power of that moment for the first time. Linnie Mae’s New Friends tells the story of “a young girl who, through a volunteer experience, learns that ALL people are people.” It’s a terrific picture book filled with images of my “second-hometown” Fort Wayne. I’m so excited for Aaron Brown and his family for the positive, compassionate message they are spreading.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Edith Wharton

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