Nontraditional help that I will never forget

Whenever we have down times, there’s usually someone, or lots of folks, there to help lift us up. They provide kind words, gifts and many other forms of encouragement.

There’s been several times in my life that I remember receiving kindnesses that most people might consider nontraditional. All kindnesses are greatly appreciated, but sometimes the different ones stick out.

The first one comes when my grandfather died when I was in elementary school. We had enormous amounts of food brought to our house, all which was very good and kind. We even got at least one of the recipes and it became something our family ate frequently. What I remember, though, is that someone brought paper plates, napkins and plastic silverware. The idea was to make it so we didn’t have to do dishes. People brought food so we wouldn’t have to worry about cooking and the plates, etc. made it so another chore didn’t have to be done. Food is always necessary and appreciated, but so were those plates!

Another example of “nontraditional help” that happened more recently. When I was laid off from my job, I was given many kind words, cards and offers of help. A group of friends who were work-related associates, however, went the extra mile. They got together to purchase a Wal-Mart gift card to send to me. This was of course helpful during a difficult time, but it meant a lot that people went the extra mile to show they cared. It wasn’t a pity thing, or a hand out. It was friends saying “we care about you and we want to help you in a practical way.”

There’s other ways to help people in the less-than-conventional way. One manner is something I started doing years ago because, well, I wanted to help but it was also easier on my finances.

When invited to a wedding,  I suggest getting a basket together and buying a bunch of the small items on the registry. I can tell you most people ignore those items because they don’t seem big or nice enough for a gift. But what if you can’t afford a $50 appliance? This is the way to go. Not only is it affordable, but it gives the bride and groom a bunch of stuff they probably didn’t expect to receive.

I’d love to hear your stories, too. What kind of nontraditional kindness have you received or given?

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