My son, Scott, has always wanted to serve his community and his country, but he didn’t see the military as an option for himself. So, when he learned that the local sheriff’s department was looking for some reserve deputies to help when needed, he decided that might be his opportunity. After weeks of intensive training, the day of graduation finally came. It wasn’t long before he was going on patrols with the regular deputies, and helping where he could.
But then came an assignment that he hadn’t considered before. Through the year the community raised money for “Shop With A Cop” to allow police officers to take underprivileged children Christmas shopping. A local fast food restaurant also donates food for them.
Usually there are far more children in need than funds to go around, but this particular year there were extra fund raisers, and enough money was collected to help all of the children. But this meant that there were not enough regular officers to fill the need, so the reserve deputies were asked to help out.
Scott gladly accepted the opportunity to spend time with one of the children, and was assigned to take an eight-year-old boy named David. When Scott took David out to eat, David, accustomed to having very little money, only ordered a small hamburger and water. Scott, knowing that wasn’t sufficient, more than quadrupled the order for him. David was amazed at the amount of food, but happily ate it.
When it came time to go shopping, Scott took David to the local department store. He was sure David would want some toys for himself, so that was where they started. But David was not interested in that.
“Would you like to look at something else?” Scott asked.
David nodded. “Can we look at clothes? I would like to get a new coat.”
That was when Scott noticed how threadbare the coat was that David was wearing, and he thought that he should have realized David would want a new one. But when Scott took him over to the boys’ clothing section of the store and showed him the coats, David was still not interested. Instead, he walked over to the girls’ section. Suddenly his eyes lit up. He pulled a beautiful coat from the girls’ rack.
“Do you think this would fit a six-year-old girl?” David asked.
“Who is six years old?” Scott asked.
“My sister,” David replied. “She really needs a new coat.”
Scott instantly gained a deeper appreciation for this little boy and his situation. But he wasn’t sure what size a six year old girl would wear, so he called our home to talk to his mother. She helped them figure out the right size, and soon they had the perfect coat. There was still money left, so Scott suggested that David buy a coat for himself. Instead, he wanted to use what was left to buy coats for his mother and his father. When that was done, the money was gone and David was happy.
But Scott was not. He had watched this little boy selflessly thinking of his family and never thinking of himself. David’s coat was far too small for him, too light to hold out the extreme Idaho cold, and tattered and worn.
Before they turned to go, Scott said, “David, there is one more thing we need to buy.”
“Is there more money?” David asked.
Scott shook his head. “No, but this is my present.”
Scott took David to the coat rack for boys and chose out the warmest coat he could find. They tried a couple before they found the perfect one. Although Scott was a college student and on a tight budget, the smile on David’s face was more than pay.
That year, although Scott thought he was doing a good service in helping a little child, he instead became the beneficiary as an eight-year-old boy taught him what Christmas was all about.
(Daris Howard, award-winning, syndicated columnist, playwright, and author, can be contacted at email@example.com; or visit his website at http://www.darishoward.com)