The Silver Quarter
When I was a young lad and Ike was president, my father took my brother and I to church every Sunday. Just before we loaded into that ugly 4 door Plymouth, he would hand us each a quarter to put in the basket as it was passed around. The usher slid the basket with long handle by and I would drop that shiny quarter into the basket with other ones and fives. On Christmas and Easter there were some tens and twenties. I would think to myself why can’t I keep the quarter, as it was such a pittance compared to other’s contributions. How much difference could a quarter make?
When I was 20 the winter was as bad as it is now. I was walking along Euclid Avenue downtown when a withered old man approached me with his hand out. He hadn’t shaved in a while and was wearing a dirty and torn old trench coat like the one my mother gave me for my birthday. He had his hand out while looking down at the ground and asked me if I could spare a quarter for him to ride the bus that night where he would be warm and safe. I too looked down as he approached and noticed that his tennis shoes were wet and he had no socks on.
My mind was racing about what to do. Should I look past him and walk by? Should I stop and give him the quarter and hope that it went toward a bottle of cheap wine? I studied the man for a moment and realized that he was someone’s loved one that was lost on this earth and had no way to help himself. There was a bunch of bills in my pocket. Spending money for the rest of the week. Twenty one dollars went into the man’s hand as he continued to look down and walk away in silence.
Every time I see a shiny quarter I think about the church basket and how that quarter dropped so softly in without me knowing how much it really meant. As I have grown old, I have seen people struggling to get by and realize what a difference a few dollars would make to their life. Sometimes when I drop my gift into the basket, I see the old man crippled up in sorrow and sadness. His image reminds me of how much difference a donation of time or money can make to others that are trying their hardest to make it through life with what they have been given. When thinking about all of your everyday problems have some concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others before giving thanks for what you have and do your best.
Tom McGinty is a local business owner becoming a member of the Euclid Community in 2011. He has organized Sheperd's Harvest a food and water give away program serving the needs of the unsheltered homeless..