Random acts of kindness: They gave me a gift as well

December 22, 2017By Acts of Kindness, Behind the Shelf Blog, Random Acts of Kindness blog series

By Shawn Theesfeld, application development manager, for our Random Acts of Kindness blog series

2016 was the second year HRG has given money to its employees as part of a Random Acts of Kindness Challenge. The money is to be spent in a manner that gives holiday cheer to others. It doesn't have to be grandiose or elaborate; it can be as simple as buying a cup of coffee for someone in line or covering the last few dollars at the checkout if someone comes up short. Some have gone to Goodwill and handed out $5 bills to those shopping to help offset their purchases. Others have gone to dollar stores and bought gifts or have used the money to fill out holiday giving trees within their own communities. I am so proud to work for (and partially own) a company that gives to the community in this fashion.

I approached this year the same as last year; I wasn't going to hunt for an opportunity but if it presented itself I would use my money that way. I had no plan. If nothing unusual came along  before Christmas, I would put the money in Red Kettles or add some extra to our church offering plate.

A few days before Christmas, a coworker and I needed to get out of the office because we had both missed lunch. We went down to the closest gas station and convenience store to grab a pretzel and soda. While eating at the snack bar overlooking the entrance, we noticed a young man outside with an empty gas can looking down at his phone, but not talking to anyone. After my co-worker and I finished, we headed out to my car to drive back to work. The gentleman was still there with his gas can looking down at his phone. We both decided we needed to do something. I walked up to him and asked if he was waiting for someone or if he needed some help. He looked at the ground and told me his girlfriend was trying to figure out how to get there, and asked if I had an extra Gas can$2 for gas. I told him to come over to the gas pump and said, “Let's fill this up; it’s on me.”

As I asked him where his car was, he told me it was one block away at the next set of lights. It was cold enough that I wouldn't want to walk that far, so I offered him a ride. He told me his name and remained quiet except for answering basic questions directing me to his car. I realized pretty quickly that he was directing us close to our Hamacher office. He told me he ran out of gas at the intersection and pushed his car into the parking lot.

As I helped him get the gas out of the trunk, I realized that there was someone in his car waiting for him. It was obvious that was his girlfriend, and he was too proud to tell me that his girlfriend “trying to get to the gas station” wasn't going to happen because they were both out of gas and money. As I approached the car to tell her, “Merry Christmas,” I quickly realized this was a family in need.

Their car was full of various possessions, blankets, and clothes…and a rear-facing infant car seat with a baby inside.

Before I turned around to park my car with its full tank of gas, and go inside to a nice job in a warm office, I pulled out my money clip and gave some extra bills to the young lady. As I told her, “Merry Christmas,” she smiled, looked down at the floor, and very humbly said, “Thank you.”

After I got inside and had an intense moment of reflection, I realized I could and should do more. I instantly regretted that I didn't empty my money clip and hand over all the money I had on me. I went back outside, but they were already gone.

I hope what I gave was enough to get them to a warm and safe place.

I’m humbled and extremely blessed in my life. I hope I never lose sight of that. That family might not know it, but they gave me a gift as well.