Giving is Giving

He saw the flyer for the Mayor’s Fund Christmas Toy Collection for needy kids.

He read it. It said to drop off your donation of new toys of $10 or more at the various locations that were listed.

The next day he drove down to the Community Center with an envelope with $10 in it.

He walked in. There was a couple in front of him with their arms full of toys.

They were handing the gifts over to the lady behind the counter. The lady thanked them. She said the Mayor’s Fund would also need people to help wrap all the gifts for the needy kids. The couple said they’d be glad to help. They asked when and said they’d return in a few days to help wrap.

As the couple left, he stepped up to the counter with his envelop. He handed it to the lady.

Brimming with holiday cheer, she smiled.

“What’s this?” she asked.

“There’s ten dollars in it. You know, for the kids.”

“Okay,” she said. “I guess we’ll use it to buy them something.”

“Yes,” he said. “Of course. That’s what it’s meant for.”

“Thank you,” she said. But he felt her thanks was less sincere than the one given to the couple before him.

“Would you, by chance, be interested in helping wrap gifts?” she asked. “Gift wrapping begins on Tuesday. If not, we’re always in need of supplies.”

Upset at the slight of a less than fully sincere thanks, he asked, “You want more from me now?”

“We ask everybody,” she said. “It’s not easy finding people to help wrap the gifts.”

“But I just gave you ten dollars,” he said. “And all you said was an insincere ‘thanks’. And now you’re asking for more? This is the problem with giving. Once you start, it never ends.”

She shoved the envelope back to him.

“Sir, I think it might be best if I give this back,” she said.

“No,” he said. “You’re gonna keep it. I’m no goddamned Scrooge when it comes to needy kids.”

“Maybe you need the money more than the kids,” she said. “Since you couldn’t buy a toy. Maybe you don’t have a car. Maybe you can’t afford internet. But they’ve got internet at the library. I work at social services. I can give you my card.”

She could feel his flaring rage.

“So this is the way it’s gonna be?”

He pulled out his wallet. From his wad of bills, he ripped out a 5 and threw it on the counter.

“Guilt might work once, but I swear, I’m never offering anything again.”

As he turned to storm out, she told him that his never giving again was probably for the best.

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