Three girls. One woman. A drawing of a girl dancing off the page. Thanksgiving afternoon.
Sammy, Becca, and Nina, ages 8, 8, and 6 spread their Thanksgiving drawings on the sidewalk, posted a sign saying “Donations for WaterAfrica” and yelled, “Art for sale,” as people approached. Joggers jogged past. Dog walkers walked past. No one even looked at their art. A few muttered, “No thanks.”
When the resourceful girls changed their approach to quietly ask passersby if they would like some Thanksgiving art, the first young couple stopped to look. They apologized that they had no money, but the girls said that they could take a Thanksgiving drawing for free. The couple selected one drawing, said thanks, walked on, but after a few steps, they returned to donate a quarter they had found in one of their pockets.
Shortly, almost every passerby stopped to admire the art. Some took a drawing and put some coins or a dollar in the donation jar. Others had no money with them, but walked away with drawings in hands and a smiles on their faces.
One woman walking three small dogs stopped to admire the drawings. The girls encouraged her to take a drawing even though she was carrying no money. She selected a stick-figure drawing of a girl dancing off the page with joy, labeled “Thanksgiving girl.” The woman said she would return with an envelope addressed to Thanksgiving girl so the girls would know who it was from. As she left, the woman said, “That made my day.”
A couple hours later, the woman returned with an envelope addressed as she had promised. Inside the envelope was a note that said, “Thank you very much for your beautiful Thanksgiving art work. I was feeling very sad today, but ‘Thanksgiving girl’ was just what I needed to feel better. Happy Holidays!” Also inside the envelope were three $10 bills.
In terms of what the girls did Thanksgiving afternoon, it did not matter that WaterAfrica was the charity of choice. What mattered was the girls’ exuberance for life shown in their drawings and in their engagements with the passersby. They helped to lift the spirits of people.
We pray this holiday season that we all can be “Thanksgiving girls.”
Bill Savage, WaterAfrica Co-Founder