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10 Franklin Street, Saratoga Springs, NY

Beyond Their Years…

November 14th, 2011

The holiday season is in full swing at the Center, and it’s amazing the outpouring of support we see this time of year.  People of all ages and all walks of life are in the spirit of giving, and even those who have little to give are making an effort to spread kindness and good will.  It is a pleasure each day to see folks dropping off Thanksgiving food items, Christmas gifts and adopting families to help make the season bright.

It’s busy, that’s for sure, and anyone who knows the ladies of FCC (aka the Franklin Facilitators ;)) knows we love meeting and greeting as often as we can.  Today was especially touching, as two extraordinary young men walked through our blue door, teaching us a lesson in generosity we never expected.

Shortly after lunch, a 4-year-old boy and his dad stopped by with a car load of toys and canned goods collected at the boy’s birthday party over the weekend.  According to the boy’s dad (let’s call the kid “E” for the story’s sake), “E” decided to forfeit birthday presents for himself so he could give back to kids in the community.  To my surprise, this young little guy at the age of 4 was truly thrilled to drop off the carload of goods at the Center.  He seemed to fully understand and surrender to the fact that he was basically foregoing his birthday loot , and he even listened intently as I gave him an age appropriate tutorial about the food pantry and the people we serve.  It was  a beautiful moment where I learned from a 4-year-old the true meaning of selflessness.  And dad watched proudly as the boy took the lead. 

Fast forward to a few hours later, in walks an 11-year-old boy (let’s call him “T”) carrying a stack of gift cards for turkeys that he could barely fit in his hands.  How did he get them?  By asking friends, neighbors, businesses and strangers to kindly donate toward the purchase of holiday items for folks served by Franklin Community Center.  Nearly $900 later, this 11-year-old single-handedly brought in more money in just a few weeks than most people could raise in a year!  Did I mention this was his second year taking on such a task?  The best part of the story is–as his mother told it–“T’s” generosity was spawned when his mom mentioned that there were “people right there in Saratoga Springs” that might not have the money to purchase Thanksgiving dinners for their families.  Unable to accept it, “T” took charge to see that would not happen, and that’s when he became an ambassador for FCC.

We could stand to learn a lot from these kids, don’t you think?  Each boy taking charge and doing something in their own way to make a difference.  Moved by their desire to change unfortunate circumstances, they are already making strides in their community.  At a time when I find myself getting caught up in the stress of purchasing gifts and shopping for my loved ones, I am quickly knocked back into reality when I arrive at work and see both sides of the scenario: so many struggling families and yet so much kindness, even at the youthful ages of 4 and 11.  We are blessed to have kids like these as the faces in our community–future leaders working together to make a difference. 

And that’s what the holiday season should be all about.