Earlier this week, I was walking in Manhattan. It is the height of the holiday shopping season, and masses of people were out smiling and carrying bags of purchases large and small. It was only 24 degrees in New York on this day, and the bitter cold weather inspired me to seek shelter. As I turned down 44th Street to head for my hotel, I noticed a very young woman carrying barely-clothed child close to her. She was not panhandling or digging around in the garbage. I went over and asked her if I could help her out. “No thank you,” she said shyly. “But your child will freeze in this weather without clothing,” I replied. Her poignant response stirred me: “We survived last winter and we will survive this one, together.”
I was overwhelmed with emotion and concern. I realized that this woman probably had only one thing left in life – her dignity – and she was not about to give that up by accepting a handout from a stranger. And yet her precious child said nothing, reminding me of a phrase I often say: Children are the largest voiceless minority.
While I was proud of this young mother’s courage and resolve, this exchange redoubled my will to help children like this woman’s child. World of Children is dedicated to improving the quality of children’s lives because children don’t get to choose the situation they are born in to; they just are. Regardless of the circumstance, it is our responsibility to reach out and help children who are hungry, poor, sick or abandoned.
As we all experience holiday frenzy – shopping, the tree, house decorating parties and the football bowl game excitement – it would be good if we paused and remembered the real, universal meaning of the holiday season: ”Good will towards others.”
You can bring a smile to the face of a child who is struggling against the odds by making a simple pledge at worldofchildren.org. Then, put a smile on your face and go forth through the holidays enjoying family and friends knowing that out there, somewhere, is a human being like you who is saying “THANK YOU” and blessing you for your small gift.