By STEVEN RAY HERNANDEZ
It was the Holiday season, and we had just been released for Christmas break. I was seven years old at the time. I was outside playing some random game that the neighborhood kids and I invented (as was customary in my days); when, all of a sudden a huge, red fire truck pulled up to the house and out jumped two firefighters.
Only there was no fire in my neighborhood that day. Instead, the two men got down from their truck, came walking to our doorstep and said, “How you doing little man, are your parents around?” I said nothing back to them, then I quickly ran inside to find my mom, thinking something was wrong, and at the same time hoping I was not in any sort of trouble. My grandmother and mom both came outside and the firefighters greeted them with a, “Merry Christmas ma’am.” “We’re here with the fire department, and we just wanted to drop off some toys, in the spirit of the season, for any kids in the household.”
“It’s just my son,” my mom noted with a smile.
“Great, I think we have a special one just for him,” they replied.
Not knowing what was going on and somewhat skeptical of their intentions, I stood there at the doorstep anxiously waiting to see what would happen next. Sure enough, the two men went to the truck, fiddled around the backseat awhile, and then returned with a shoe-box sized gift wrapped in red Christmas paper. They handed it down to me and said, “Merry Christmas, son.”
Still not believing this was happening, I quickly responded, “This is for me?”
“Yes sir,” the two firemen replied.
“Really?” I replied, still somewhat skeptical of what was going on.
“Yes,” the two firemen replied with a grin. “Go ahead, open it.”
I unwrapped the gift as fast as I could and low-and-behold, it was a remote-controlled car, something I had been wanting forever!
Now, I know these days they are a dime-a-dozen, but you have to understand that back in 1992, remote-controlled cars were on almost every kid’s Christmas list. And not only could I not believe that I had finally got one, but the fact that it was given to me by a total stranger just blew my mind! The fact that someone, out of the kindness of their heart, would help someone in need was a quality-trait of a person that my seven-year old mind could not fathom at the time. But that didn’t matter. You see, the firefighter did not just give me a remote-controlled car that day. In fact, he gave me something much greater than that- a new outlook on life.
Before that day, I’ll admit, I was the average greedy seven-year old who didn’t like sharing his toys, nor did I understand the concept of giving things away. All I knew was that I was poor and that most kids I knew had more things than I did. In essence, my mentality was, “Why should I be sharing or giving anything away when I don’t even have things myself?” What I didn’t realize, or didn’t see for that matter, was that there were hundreds, probably thousands of kids in the community that had it much worse than I did. But that all changed on that December day in 1992.
For me, when the firefighters showed up unexpectedly at my doorstep with a gift, it was the first time I ever witnessed what we now refer to as a “random act of kindness.” And a seed was planted.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and babble-on about my accounts with random acts of kindness or boast about the things I’ve done, because in all honesty, I really don’t care for the recognition.
What I am going to do, however, is offer you, the community, a challenge.
This week, I ask as many of you reading this to practice one random act of kindness a day. And if you’re the head of your household reading this, why not instill the challenge upon your family as well?
Accept this challenge and you will get a prize.
It won’t be a remote-controlled car, but I guarantee you it will be something much-much greater than that!