| Family First Feature |

Seeds of Kindness 2022

15 readers share moments of connection

When you’re hurt

when you’re defeated

when you’re grieving

it feels like you stand alone


Then someone reaches out

with warm words

an empathetic ear

a nourishing meal


And the pain diminishes,

kindness softening the edges

of a sometimes harsh reality


The Timeless Letter

T. Cohen, Baltimore


In 1995, I was in tenth grade at Bais Yaakov of Baltimore. It was a tumultuous time for me due to an emotionally charged and complex family situation. I trudged through the year as best as I could.

A few weeks after the end of the school year, our report cards came in the mail. I was surprised to see another paper in the envelope. I opened it. It was a personal letter to me from the assistant principal, Rabbi Yehoshua Shapiro.

The letter said that he’d been reviewing all the report cards and had taken notice of my strong academic performance. He acknowledged that the year had been very challenging for me due my family situation. He was impressed that despite all the challenges, I’d performed well. He gave me chizuk and a brachah that I should continue to stay strong and be successful.

I read the letter again and again. When times were hard, I read the letter. When things improved, I read it too. One letter that took a few minutes to write held me up for years. Whenever I felt sad or lost, I’d take out the letter and remind myself that I was strong and could get through hard things.

Nine years ago, we moved to a new house. I made sure to pack the letter. But I couldn’t find it in our new home. I searched for days and finally concluded that the box with the letter had gotten lost on moving day and had probably ended up in a landfill.

A few months ago, we started a small construction project in our basement. In the course of moving things around for the renovation, the box resurfaced! I opened it and found that letter sitting there. I read it again. It still applied to me. Life has had its many ups and downs since 1995, but the message was timeless.

Thank you, Rabbi Shapiro, for taking five minutes to write a letter that still gives me chizuk, even 25-plus years later.


Welcome Home


Returning home just a few weeks after my wedding wasn’t easy. I was so young, overwhelmed, and in pain. I was relieved the marriage was over, but I knew there was a really hard chapter ahead of me: the challenge of going out on the street knowing that people were talking about me. Pitying me. Wondering why it happened, and if I did the right thing. Judging without knowing the painful details I wasn’t going to share to spare his family any more pain than what they already have to deal with.

Hashem sent me some special people to show me He was still with me. I remember the day vividly in my mind. I’d just unpacked my belongings and felt a need to go on a walk. My mother offered to be my walking partner. As we went down the stairs, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the next-door neighbor. I started to cringe inside, and my cheeks became red. I didn’t want to meet anyone and have to answer their questions or comments.

But I didn’t have a choice. The neighbor noticed me, and I braced myself for the worst. But no questions were forthcoming. Only the warmest “welcome home” and words of deep understanding and care. She made me feel so supported and strong. There was no criticism or judgment, just real kindness.

It gave me the strength to have the courage to face others. When really uncomfortable situations came my way, like someone asking me what my married name is, how many children I have, or where I live, I was able to just smile and reply honestly. Sometimes I even shocked the questioner with my confident answer. My ability to be okay with meeting people is because of this neighbor. I don’t think she even realized what an enormous impact her kind actions had on me. I’m forever grateful.


Top This


It was the first day after our sheva brachos.

It was a warm day, and we drove for eight hours to New Jersey for a wedding. The trees swayed in dance for us, the wind sang our happy song. Everything seemed blissful.

After arriving in New Jersey, we got ready for the wedding. The hall was close by to where we were staying. We should have gotten there five minutes after leaving the house. But Hashem had other plans.

Just a few seconds after getting into the car, a car coming from the opposite direction came crashing into our car. I can still hear the screech ringing in my ear. The front window shattered, there was glass everywhere, and the car filled with smoke. I felt a hard bang on my face, which I later learned were the airbags deploying. I was sure everything was all over.

I reached for the door, and by miracle it was unlocked. I pushed through, under the airbags. I got out, and my brand-new wig slipped off my head and under the car. In that frazzled moment, I didn’t realize, and just ran for my life.

Once I was safely across the street, where I was able to take in the scene, I realized I wasn’t wearing my wig. As the realization hit, Hashem sent a messenger. A man came out of nowhere, and in a calm voice said, “Rebbetzin, take my hat.” In those traumatic moments, his kindness warmed my heart.

Moments later, my husband found my wig, and we were rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Baruch Hashem, we only had minor injuries.

I never got to thank that man, and I never got to return his hat to him. But what he did that night, I’ll remember forever.

It Takes a Village

S. Goodman

I was due to have my second child during Succos of 2020. On Rosh Hashanah, my husband was feeling really under the weather. He took a Covid test and ta-da, he was positive. I was really stressed. Does this mean I’ll have to gve birth by myself? I kept thinking,

After feeling sorry for myself, I decided I needed to do something to help myself. I started making calls to different doulas. They were all super nice and said they’d come with me to give birth. That calmed me down. I got off the phone with the last doula at 11 p.m., and a few hours later I went into labor!

I kept doubting that it was really labor; I wasn’t due for another two weeks. But when the contractions became more frequent, I realized this was really happening. I had no clue what to do with my toddler son. Who would look after him if we had Covid in the house?

I called his babysitter from the previous year. She was a malach and was more than happy to take him. Next I had to figure out which doula to call. I called up one, and she said she’d come right over. I called a neighbor and asked if she could drive my son to the babysitter because I needed to go to the hospital soon. Malach Number Two came right over and brought him to his babysitter, where he ended up staying the whole week.

The sweetest doula arrived. She was Malach Number Three! She helped clean up my house, took out the garbage, and made me feel so calm. We went to the hospital and boom, my beautiful baby boy was born. I realized then that it was my father-in-law’s first yahrtzeit. It felt like he was pulling strings in Shamayim for me, and I was so grateful to have a healthy baby boy.

I tried to call my husband and let him know we’d had a boy, but he was so sick, he’d fallen asleep and didn’t answer his phone. After what felt like eternity, he finally answered, and I was able to share our good news.

Baruch Hashem, I tested negative for Covid, so they didn’t put me or my baby in isolation. The whole time I was in the hospital, there were people looking after me and my husband. Neighbors checked in daily to make sure my husband was okay and had what he needed.

I was really looking forward to going home to see my husband and for him to see our baby. We were told if he wore an N95 mask, then he could come close to us. On Thursday morning, as I was getting ready to leave the hospital, I got a phone call from another malach informing me that my husband was in an ambulance on his way to Mount Sinai. His oxygen levels had dropped to 78, and he was in bad shape.

I completely fell apart. Malach Number Five, another neighbor, came to pick me up from the hospital and took me to stay at the neighbor who’d driven my son to his babysitter. Another neighbor stayed with my husband from the time he was admitted until he was settled in a room. He made sure my husband had food and was well taken care of. This was the last day they allowed anyone to accompany a patient to the hospital!

My husband was in the hospital, and there was no way I was going to have a shalom zachar without him. But the special people in my neighborhood wouldn’t hear of it. They all came over and wished a hearty mazal tov to me and a refuah sheleimah for my husband. It was so heartwarming to see how much people care.

On Shabbos, I felt completely run down. I tried my best to keep it together for my kids. Yom Kippur came a day or two later and another malach offered to take my toddler so I could rest.

I was drinking an ounce of Powerade every nine minutes or so. At one point I realized the taste was fading. But I was in denial. There was no way I could have Covid now, the day before the bris!

My husband was doing so much better and was supposed to be discharged in time for the bris. The morning of the bris, my son looked a little yellow, so we had to get his bilirubin levels tested. I kept saying, “Perfect, this way my husband will definitely be home in time.” At around one o’clock, we got word that the baby was well enough to have a bris. One neighborhood family organized the event. It was magnificent. It’s an understatement to say that there are some very special people in this world.

At around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, someone came to where I was staying to test me for Covid. I was positive. I called my husband to tell him, assuming he was on his way home, and he informed me that in the end they weren’t going to discharge him that day. Double blow!

But the bris went on. I sat on the back porch and family and friends came from all over to partake in this unusual simchah. My husband connected via a tablet, and we all remember the emotional “v’yikarei shemo b’Yisrael, Chaim Avraham Shmuel,’’ sounding from it.

The next day my husband was discharged. Succos was around the corner, and our special neighbors made all our meals and built us a beautiful succah.

My dear son, Avrumi, will be hearing a lot about this at his bar mitzvah, aufruf, and sheva brachos! Meanwhile, I’m filled with gratitude to Hashem for sending me the most special malachim to help me out when I needed it badly.


“That Must Be Hard”

Dassi B., Israel

I was still pretty newlywed, married just over a year, but it was long enough to conclude that we were in trouble. My marriage was failing on every front, and we were sliding into a deep rut of despair. There was constant tension in our conversations, and the more we argued, the further we drifted apart.

Living in Israel and being married to an Israeli was more challenging than I’d anticipated. The challenge of adjusting to marriage, a foreign culture, and motherhood felt overwhelming. I was exhausted and felt very much alone.

Somewhere, somehow, a friend convinced me to attend a series of marriage class delivered by Mrs. Yitty Bisk. The classes were superb, but the scenarios discussed seemed like a far cry from the complex reality that was my marriage. At the end of the series, Mrs. Bisk invited us to contact her — anonymously, if we wished — with any questions.

Clutching her number tightly in my palm, I headed home, a tiny seedling of hope nestled somewhere beneath all the layers of anguish. That evening, after yet another stormy fight, my husband exploded in frustration and left the house, slamming the door behind him. I sat there, numb with fear and despair. I listened to the clock ticking and heard the baby’s calm breathing in the next room. It was a morbid silence.

Then I recalled the paper hidden inside the crevices of my bag. Fingers trembling, I dialed the number. Mrs. Bisk answered and assured me she time to speak. My heart lurched as I described how lonely and dark my life seemed.

There was silence, and then she said softly, “Wow, that must be really hard for you.”

Tears sprung to my eyes, and I felt too choked up to continue. For months, I’d wished to discuss my struggles with somebody, but nobody seemed trustworthy enough. Also, there was shame in admitting that I was miserable in an area I thought my friends seemed so blissfully settled. But finally, I’d found someone who cared and understood!

After several more phone calls, she referred me to a therapist, which led us to try marriage counseling, which had a tremendous impact on both my marriage and on me as an individual.

Today, when I look around my peaceful, happy Shabbos table, I’ll never forget that dreary evening, and the tears that sprung forth when “That must be really hard for you,” was uttered softly by someone who cared.


Growing Friendship

C.B., Monsey

My friend Esty loves to garden. Each spring she works tirelessly, and come summer, she has the most beautiful flower and vegetable garden.

I loved to watch her at work. I visited her often and we spoke about me planting my own garden. She promised she’d help me once I get started, but I was and still am dealing with a lot, as a single parent of young children, trying to make ends meet. My life was too hectic to find the time and place to plant a garden.

Then suddenly, I was thrown into more craziness. One of my children was diagnosed with a serious medical situation. We went from doctor to doctor. I was drowning. One particularly hard day, we left early in the morning to make a trip to a specialist and came back at night exhausted. I was ready to quit.

As I pulled into my driveway, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Esty and her children were finishing the last touches on my garden. All day they’d been at my house removing rocks, pulling out weeds, raking, adding fertilizer and seeds.

I cried and we hugged. Slowly my garden grew. Being in the garden was so therapeutic. It added sunshine to my difficult days.

It’s been five years since then, and I’ve maintained the garden. Every year, we go together to buy flowers to plant. We share tips and tricks with each other as we each work on our gardens. Friendships… they’re the flowers in life’s garden!


Open Home, Open Heart

Mrs. S. Gluskin, Monsey

About two hours before Shabbos, my father was taken to Columbia’s emergency room due to dehydration. When I got the call, I grabbed a travel bag, tossed in some essentials, and called a cab to take me from upstate NY to the hospital.

Covid regulations allowed only one person to stay with the patient, so I sat in the waiting area until my mother emerged from the ER and switched places with her.

When my mother returned, a guard approached us, shouting that I’d violated hospital rules. Apparently, “one person per patient” meant only one designated person can be with the patient the entire time they’re in the ER. Ignoring my apologies, the guard barred me from hospital grounds, and to my mother’s horror, forced me out of the waiting room and onto the street.

I sat down on a concrete slab in front of the hospital. I had nothing with me and no place to spend the night. To pass the time and distract myself from the cold, I sang Shabbos zemiros softly, all the while hoping someone frum might come by who could help me find a safe place to stay for the night.

After about an hour, to my delight, I noticed a tall chassidish man dressed in bigdei Shabbos exiting the hospital. I ran over to him and said, “I need help. I was planning to stay with my father over Shabbos, but I was kicked out of the hospital and have nowhere to go. Are you staying anywhere that might have room for me?”

“Yes,” he replied immediately, “I know a place you can stay. It’s a few blocks from here. Follow me.”

I was about to go with him, but realized my parents were probably frantic with worry about me, so I asked if he could first find my parents in the ER and tell them he had a safe place for me to stay. When he returned, we raced three blocks past the hospital and stopped in front of a door that read “Chabad House.”

He punched in a code, propped the door open with a chair so it wouldn’t be yichud, and showed me that inside there were chairs, tables, food, seforim, and a couch to sleep on. He assured me I would be safe there because the door locked from the inside.

Before going in, I asked him where he was planning to stay that night. “Don’t worry about me. I have other places to go,” he said. I asked him who he knew in the neighborhood. He repeated, “Don’t worry. I have places.”

Suddenly it dawned on me that maybe he didn’t have another place and that he’d just given up his entire Shabbos arrangement… for me.

So I pressed him. “Tell me where you’re going to stay.”

“Don’t worry about me,” he finally replied. “I can walk the streets. You come first. You must stay here.”

I was in awe. This man, who hardly spoke English and was completely unfamiliar with the neighborhood, was willing to instantly give up everything he’d reserved for himself — food, warmth, and sleep — to wander city streets all night, in order to make sure a Jewish woman would be safe and comfortable.

I just couldn’t bear to take this wonderful man up on his selfless offer. But back on the cement slab in front of the hospital, I warmed myself for hours by the radiant light of his chesed.


Tough Spot

T. W., Long Island

It had been a very challenging few months for my family. What started off as a miscommunication between my parents and my sister and her husband had somehow escalated to them cutting ties completely. Next thing we knew, she and her husband had run off to Israel.

Despite my parents’ best efforts to resolve things and make shalom, our pleas fell on deaf ears. To make matters worse, my brother-in-law’s family were all supporting my sister and her husband and hiding them away from us to ensure they truly were unreachable until they left the country.

We were all feeling miserable. We felt like we were losing a child/sibling without the shivah process that allows for mourning and comfort. Despite my sadness, I pulled myself together for the sake of my husband and kids and decided to take my children to the park.

I didn’t really feel like seeing anyone I knew, but when I saw my brother-in-law’s cousin, my heart started beating wildly. My brother-in-law’s relatives were the last people I wanted to see. I saw her coming toward me, and I braced myself for what I thought would be a barrage of insults about my family. To my utter surprise, she threw her arms around me and gave me the biggest hug.

“I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It must be so hard for you all,” she said.

Those words gave me so much chizuk that to this day I think of her whenever I desperately miss my sister. I’d never felt so validated in all my life. To think that this lady was able to look beyond her own family’s behavior and see the pain of someone else!


No Show

Avigail, London

It was a super-hot June Friday in 2019 in London. We don’t often see such heat. In my busy household, no matter what time Shabbos comes in, I’m always working frantically until the last minute to get Shabbos ready.

Someone had asked if I could do her carpool for her, so I buckled my boys, Moishy and Rafi (then aged three years and seven months), into the car and headed off to pick up the girls. We got home, and I rushed straight back into the cooking and tidying marathon.

And then my neighbor knocked on the door. Very calmly he asked if I was missing a child. When he saw my confused look, he said there was a child left in our car. Realization hit me. Moishy! I hadn’t seen him in a while; I’d assumed he was in his room upstairs.

Hashem yerachem! It was so hot. And my son was locked in a hot car!

“He’s fine,” my neighbor assured me. “Give me your keys. Don’t come out, there are quite a few people there.” I quickly handed him my car keys and a minute later he walked in with a tear-streaked and hot, but otherwise okay, Moishy.

My neighbor explained that another neighbor had noticed Moishy and called Chaverim, who were about to force the car door open when he arrived home and said he knew whose car this was and that he’d get the keys. And with that, he gave me my son and left.

At the time I was overcome with gratitude to Hashem and to all the people who’d helped save my son’s life. But I was also in awe of the incredibly sensitive way my neighbor had dealt with the situation. He didn’t just hurry to call me. He thought of how embarrassed I’d be in front of all the people outside. He thought beyond the practical needs and considered the feelings of a mother who’d made a mistake so huge, it had almost cost her her son’s life.

More than two years have passed since our personal miracle. Life moves on, and we’ve since moved to a new street and another precious child has joined the gang. Yet I haven’t forgotten not just my neighbor’s kindness, but also the supremely sensitive way in which it was done.


Cloaked in Caring

Chaya Feldstein, Baltimore

It happened many years ago, but when I think of the Cohens*, the feeling of love and warmth melts my heart.

My brave mom was a single parent. When we moved to a new neighborhood when I was a young girl, the Cohens heard about us and adopted us as family.

They invited us for Shabbos quite often, and we stayed over the weekend for a Sunday barbecue. At the time, my mom didn’t drive, and they’d offer transportation there and back. When they went on vacation, they bought back gifts for us, just as they did for their own children. Whether it was jewelry or cute soaps, it didn’t matter. The feeling of their love remained with me.

The thing I’m most grateful for is the pre-Succos and Pesach clothes they gifted us with. They’d send my family to a local clothes shop to choose an outfit for Yom Tov. There was no budget.

In fact, once I wanted an outfit that was a bit more than my mother thought appropriate to spend. The other dresses didn’t suit me well and being conscious of spending another person’s money, the store owner chose to make a phone call and ask if it was okay to go ahead with it. I’ll never forget the Cohens’ warm and enthusiastic response.

My mother inculcated a sense of hakaras hatov in me, and as a kid I appreciated what they did. But as an adult, I wrote a letter of gratitude a few pages long, stressing the impact a beautiful wardrobe had on me, and how much the relationship I had with them meant to me.

Their response was, “We were so happy we could do it. We saw you kids, and we loved you, and we wanted to do whatever we could to make you happy.”

Their acts of kindness propel me to pass it onto others. I long to do it in the way they did it for us.


Perfect Fit

R.E., New York

My much older brother, Chaim Sholom a”h, had a heart of gold. He didn’t do chesed for recognition, and he never expected anything in return. Often, the recipients of his kindness had no idea he was the benefactor. He genuinely wanted others to feel happy and cared for.

The incident that stands out in my mind took place when I was in junior high school. Chaim Sholom was staying at our parents’ home for a few months while conducting a work project. One day, I mentioned that I dreamed of a particular pair of shoes many popular girls had recently purchased. To me, those shoes were a stamp of belonging to the “in” crowd.

Those were the days before online shopping. Chaim Sholom offered to take me to the mall to find the shoes. He truly sympathized with me and was willing to give his time for what I deemed important. The mall, however, was sold out of the shoes. Chaim Sholom didn’t give up and drove to a mall further away.

I can’t remember exactly how far we went in our quest for the coveted pair of shoes, but until this day, I remember feeling my brother’s love and loyalty. I knew how much he cared. At the end of the day, we were unsuccessful and called off our search.

After some time, Chaim Sholom returned to his home in New York and all thoughts of our shoe hunt were forgotten. Or so I thought.

One day after school, I found a package in the mail from New York City, addressed to… me! I eagerly tore open the box, with a sneaking suspicion of what lay within. Sure enough, I discovered a brand-new pair of the Nine West platform loafers that I’d been dreaming of for months. It warmed my heart then, and still does today, to know that Chaim Sholom combed the streets of Manhattan in pursuit of the shoes his little sister was yearning for.

He’d get no honor or payback. Hardly anyone even knew of his kind deed. All he wanted was to put a smile on my face. That was Chaim Sholom’s way. More than 20 years later, this act of kindness lives on in my heart and serves as an example for me of how to do true chesed.


All Set

C.W., Lakewood

The ICU is always a tough place to be, and it’s definitely not the ideal shanah rishonah trip. But when I was sent to the emergency room by my doctor after too many days of fever and shortness of breath, my husband and I tried to make the best of it.

In Yerushalyim, far from family and friends, we were astounded by the amount of chesed done for us. During the ten days it took for my oxygen levels to stabilize, so many people were there for us in so many ways, from my father and brother-in-law who dropped everything to fly across the world to be with us, to my husband’s rosh kollel who handed him a few hundred dollars for any expenses, to my husband’s kollel who held a yom tefillah at the Kosel, to my devoted friend who made the trip over and over again to visit me, bringing along delicious food and whatever else I needed (thanks, Yocheved!). We were so touched by the outpouring of warmth and support.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make you realize just how much people care. When my husband came to the hospital one night, bearing a fragrant supper from one of the kollel wives whom I arely knew, I unpacked the food onto the hospital tray, and my eyes filled with tears. Along with a wholesome, beautifully packaged supper was a bag of pretty paper goods and disposable silverware tied with a ribbon.

All felt right again as I gingerly untied the ribbon and set the hospital tray with the beautiful paper goods with a smile, once again a regular shanah rishonah wife setting the table to eat dinner with her husband.


Comfort Zone

Avigail Leibowitz, Manchester

I got married to the bechor of an all-boys family.

My mother-in-law a”h was the kindest and sweetest lady, loved by everyone, and very attuned to each of her children. She didn’t treat me like a daughter-in-law; we were like a mother and daughter and had long, meaningful conversations. We shared lots of very special moments together, which I will cherish forever.

My sisters-in law, who got married a while after me, felt the same way, and each of us had a unique relationship with her.

After battling cancer for a few years, my dear mother-in-law passed away and left us bereft and grieving. She was nifteres in Eretz Yisrael, and my father-in-law and all the boys were there for the levayah and subsequent shivah.

My sister-in-law and I couldn’t attend the levayah and didn’t sit shivah, but we felt like we’d just lost our mother and were in a state of mourning.

The day after the levayah, I received a phone call from the wife of my husband’s rosh yeshivah. She’d lived next door to my in-laws and had a close connection to them throughout the years. She happened to be in Eretz Yisrael and had managed to visit my mother-in-law a few days before her passing.

I’ll never forget that phone call. I felt like someone understood me and knew what a close connection I’d had with my mother-in-law and how utterly bereft I felt. She gave my sister-in-law and me words of chizuk and nechamah. It was her kindness and empathy that carried us through that difficult and painful time.


Token Kindness

Leah Berger, Lakewood

I had a good childhood, but with two parents in chinuch and a large family, kein ayin hara, I wore mostly hand-me-downs and our Sunday afternoon outings consisted of trips to the park or the free zoo. Monday mornings would find me listening, wide-eyed, to my classmates’ accounts of trips to amusement parks, arcades, and other places I could only dream of going to.

But this Sunday, Mrs. Green, a well-to-do family friend, had graciously invited me and my older brother to join their family on a trip to the arcades. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited to finally experience real fun, and I allowed myself to revel in the feeling of being privileged, even if just for an afternoon.

The cacophony of noise and colorful lights bombarded us as we entered the cavernous room, and I looked around, amazed, at the animated machines and dazzling array of prizes dangling enticingly behind the counter. I eyed a big stuffed animal and a colorful slinky and wondered if I would earn enough tickets to bring home one of those prizes.

My mother had given me and my brother a five-dollar bill to share, and we headed over to the token machine along with our friends, barely containing our excitement for the adventure ahead. The Greens went first. They fed several bills into the machine, and it produced glorious piles of golden tokens. Their kids ran off gleefully in all directions.

When it was our turn, my brother carefully fed our five-dollar bill into the machine. It rumbled and clanked as we waited, spitting out several coins intermittently, but all too soon, the machine fell silent. My brother and I stared at the sad little pile, and waited a few more moments, hoping that perhaps it would cough up another round of coins. But the clanking had ceased.

Divided between the two of us, we’d have ten coins each, enough for a few games. Disappointment rose within me, my feelings of euphoria and privilege deflated like a leaking balloon. I felt shame and resentment toward my mother for naively giving us so little money, and then guilt for expecting more than I knew she could afford.

I stared at the Green kids running around from machine to machine, with bulging bags of tokens in their hands and lengths of tickets trailing behind them. Once again, I was the disadvantaged kid, the sideliner who could only look on enviously as my friends luxuriated with abandon. I was the imposter in first class, outed and sent back in shame to coach where I belonged.

Suddenly a hand emerged from behind us, and in it was a bill — 20 dollars! And Mrs. Green was feeding it into the token machine casually as she said, “This is for you both.” Then she walked away. Relief and gratitude washed over me as my brother stared open-mouthed at the machine. It began churning out round after dazzling round of golden tokens. We were rich, we were indulged, we were on top of the world. But more importantly, we belonged. We were worthy and deserving like everyone else.

And I had an afternoon of extravagant fun, earning an abundance of tickets, and bringing home the colorful slinky that occupied a proud place on my bookshelf for many years, a memento of the exhilarating freedom I’d experienced that day.

Many years have passed, but I’ll always remember Mrs. Green’s act of kindness. She gave me the gift of dignity and belonging, and its impact has reverberated throughout my life.



Congratulations to our gift card winners!

M.K. of Brooklyn, NY


Shani Gerlitz of Lawrence, NY


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 776)

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