Helping in Hugo and other places


by Joe Nathan, 5/30/08 • Is kindness contagious? I’m not sure. But recent stories about folks helping out after Hugo’s tornado showed Minnesotans at our best, after some of our worst weather. Helping others, whether after a tornado, a stalled car or other problem, is one of the things we do best. Because kindness, like many other things is learned, why not build a bit of it into summer plans with our kids.

Last week the following played out in a Target parking lot: A young women with two small children was talking with her children, next to their car. A family entering the store noticed them. Thirty five minute, the mother and her children were still standing by the car.

One family member went over to ask if there was a problem. But the woman explained in a Spanish accident, “I don’t speak English.” Fortunately, one of the family members spoke Spanish fluently, and asked if she could help.

Huge grin from the mother. She quickly explained that her car would not start, that her husband was coaching a youth baseball game and she did not have a cell phone to reach him. She did not have jumper cables, and neither did the other family. So they went back into Target and purchased the necessary cables.

Out they came, jumped the car, and problem solved (at least until a new battery could be purchased).

Later that day, another problem presented itself. Two family members were walking near a lake, and passed a man playing with his dog. On passing by again, twenty minutes later, the man and dog were still there on the ground

Is there a problem? Yes. The dog had been playing in the water and apparently done something to his paw. Now it was hanging sadly, with the dog not willing to put any weight on it.

“Would you wait with my dog while I get my car?” the dog’s owner asked. “Sure!”. 10 minutes later, the man returned He and a family member carried the 100 pound+ dog to the car.

Helping others happens all the time. But it isn’t usually featured on tv, or promoted on the radio. Kindness, like other things is learned. So how about if families devote a few hours this summer to some service to others.

A few years ago the synagogue our family attends had a community service morning. More than a dozen projects were available, ranging from filling sand bags in a nearby community that was threatened by a flood, to serving food at a nearby food shelf, to packing medical supplies for African families, to helping build a Habitat Humanity House. For three hours people worked together.

It was a WONDERFUL way to spend a morning. I went with the sand-bagging group (we weren’t lazy, we really did pack sand bags.) The people we helped were delighted. But as you can imagine, those helping received at least as much in satisfaction, as we gave.