Posted by: Modern Mom | February 27, 2012

A Child’s Heart

The other day as we were stopped at a light from an on-ramp, my son noticed a man standing with a sign at the side of the road that read “Homeless. Anything helps. God bless.” It’s an epidemic in the Portland area, it seems. He asked me what the man was doing just standing there. I thought quickly of how to answer him simply. “He’s begging, honey,” I said. Then he asked me why. I should know that no simple answer will satisfy my son. I had a hard time coming up with an answer. How do I tell him, without getting complicated, why this man was standing there with a sign.

Finally I told him that the man was asking for money because he needed help. Then he hit me with, “Why aren’t we giving him any?” sigh How do I answer that one? Because we can’t give money to every person on the street who asks? Because, after reading a Portland expose years ago, I can’t trust the people begging on the streets because I don’t know who’s for real? I want to help, but I wonder where the money will really go? The answer I settled on was that we give money to charities that help people who need it, and the charities can do better things with the money than we can by giving it to people on the streets.

Well, what would you say? Really. I want to know.

Then, after a few moments lost in thought in a rare quiet car, he strummed my heartstrings. “Mom. I have money in my piggy bank at home. I could give the begging gentleman that money and that would help him.” I didn’t know what to say. I was so struck by his innocence and sweet generosity that I was speechless, and a little choked up. I told him if that’s what he wanted to do with his piggy bank money, then that’s what we’d do.

He thought for a moment more. “I should probably save some of my money. So I’ll give the gentleman some of my money, and save the rest.” Well, that’s good, too.

I’ve been thinking about this moment all week. It brings me back to one of the reasons for doing the work I do. Giving back. He made me question whether I am doing enough good. What a wonderful thing for him to make me wonder. I already work with some wonderful local charities, The Giving Closet and Open House Ministries of Vancouver, donating time, goods, money. I know that my job will give me even more resources in the future to give to these charities, and more. I look forward to the day when my son is old enough to come with me and participate. That day is not far off, I think.


  1. What a truly selfless heart your little man has! Kudos to you and your hubby for teaching him philanthropy through your own actions.


    • Thank you, Leslie. It was one of those moments that made me think I must be doing something right. Thanks for stopping by!


  2. Yes, reminds me so much of his daddy. When about three, his daddy thought everyone was so mean to Bambi that he would cry. . . . . . . . . .

    Sweethearts, they are . . . . . . ..


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