The Backpack

He darted across the busy street without looking, the backpack upon his shoulder flapping in the cold winter wind. When he reached the middle of the intersection, papers from inside his backpack flew across the street, landing on the dirty roadside snowbank. In a matter of moments everything seemed to fall apart.

She was driving to work from the suburbs, a young professional eager to begin another day in her newly promoted role at corporate headquarters. She had yielded at a busy corner when she noticed a young kid running through the tangled intersection. Cars were rushing in many directions and in the midst of them was a boy whose backpack had just broken apart – papers flying everywhere. She made a quick decision. In an instant she was on the side of the road and out of her car – clad in heels and a corporate dress – helping the boy pick up his school papers. He turned to the young woman “thanks so much, I am running late today” he said breathlessly. She nodded kindly and offered “No problem, do you need a ride to school? I think you can see from my clothes that I am on my way to work. You can trust me.” The boy seemed to know that he could trust her and accepted the gracious offer from the charitable stranger.

On the ride to school, the young woman asked “What grade are you in?” The boy responded “Eighth grade and I play hockey.” He pointed the way to school and the young woman drove safely toward the destination. During the drive, she discovered that the boy came from a single parent home and was often late for school. She also observed that his jeans were torn – not the intentional, stylish type of torn – but the old, in need of replacement type of torn. She also noticed that his backpack was tattered and worn with a broken zipper. When they got to school the new friends bid each other goodbye and went their separate ways.

On her way to work, something happened to the young woman. She could not get this young boy out of her mind. She thought about him during her work day and shared his story with her family. Later that night the young woman made a simple, thoughtful decision. She had not intended to share that decision with anyone, but her mom had discovered her beautiful plan.

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” 
― Mother Theresa

You see, this young woman was brought up in a family where she was loved unconditionally. She did not always get what she wanted, but she never suffered from a lack of love. Growing up, she worked hard in her academics, activities, babysitting gigs, community outreach projects and various jobs – learning the true meaning of diligence and gratitude. She discovered God in all facets of her young life and understood that she was called to live like His son Jesus – loving, merciful, kind and faithful. As the eldest grandchild, she was expected to set a worthy example for the other children in the family to follow, and she did. When her family needed her most – she stepped up and assisted the two women who were suffering deeply. Her heroic actions at that difficult time were mature and sacrificial, a true blessing to everyone in her midst. But all of this came naturally to her – for she had learned how to love from her family and from the very two women whom she was called to care for at that time. That is why she made a plan to do something special for the young boy with the broken backpack.

Two days after meeting the boy on the street, the young woman drove back to the middle school. She only knew the boy’s first name, grade and sports interest and hoped this would be sufficient to deliver the package to him. When she arrived at the office in the late afternoon, the young boy was headed towards her and said “Hi, what are you doing here?” The young woman smiled knowingly and responded “I thought you could use a new backpack since your old one fell apart on the street the other day. There are gift cards and other things inside – stuff I hope will be useful to you.” The boy just looked at her for a moment and then stammered “thank you.” She smiled at him, nodded her head and departed.

“For it is in giving that we receive.” 
― St. Francis of Assisi

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