Bare Feet

Mama worked, so my elementary school was chosen along the bus lines to downtown Raleigh. Every morning we began our day together ~ Mom to work at the Revenue Department and myself to school. I loved my teachers, and especially friendly Mrs. Mitchell: the lady who helped us safely cross the streets. It was the 50’s when children went to school in the district in which they lived–with a few exceptions, mine being one. Surrounding this school were homes of some of the poorest people in town.

Dinner time discussion was filled with my reports of children in my classroom who came to school with no shoes on. Maybe their walk to school was not too terribly long…and friendly Mrs. Mitchell did help them cross safely from their nearby neighborhood…but their bare feet exposed to all the year-long weather did not sit well with me. I wanted to help. I HAD to help be someone’s sunshine whose skies were definitely grey.

Daddy tried. He called the school and offered to buy shoes for the names of those I mentioned, but he was told that some of the proud folks wouldn’t receive the help. I cried myself to sleep many nights.

At this time in his career, Daddy was the accountant for a fruit and produce company. I can still remember my wide eyes staring at the crates of fresh fruit ~ some of the biggest I had ever seen before, or since. Back in those days, fruit ripened and plumped on the vines or trees. One Christmas, Daddy had an idea…one that he felt would work to help these poor children in my class. He purchased some of the crates of fruit.

We spread 5 white sheets of tissue paper on the floor and filled the middle of the papers with a variety of fruit for each child in my class ~ pulled up the edges and tied them together with colored ribbons. That way, Daddy said, no one would feel singled out. Joy filled my heart as we delivered these bountiful packages to school before our holiday break; that joy has lasted all these [many] years. Every time I see fresh fruit, I think of those several Christmases that we brought gifts to their homes. Every time I see tissue paper, I remember how 5 sheets of tissue held together packages of love.

Yes, their feet were still bare, but I was satisfied that we had done what we could to make Christmas a little more special. My life was forever marked by the joy of giving.

“Do not neglect to do good to share what you have.” [Hebrews 13:16]


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