You Just Can’t Lose

Here’s a short tale about a little boy, good deeds and… Canadian Tire. Yes indeed, there really is a lot more to this reliable neighbourhood store than tires.

If you grew up in Canada, you’ve likely handled your share of Canadian Tire money. It may even claim a small section of your wallet, where you hoard the brightly coloured bills, only sometimes remembering to pull them out at the cash register along with your purchase of – depending on the season – snow scraper or hornet control spray. These close-to-worthless coupons have been around since forever. So has that jovial white-haired guy who appears on the bills, wearing a jaunty hat and handlebar moustache and looking only too delighted to save you a nickel or two on your next two-hundred-dollar purchase. (Who is that guy, really?)

In fact, one of the easiest good deeds I ever do happens at the Canadian Tire store. It takes about six seconds, starting from when I get handed a few cents’ worth of Canadian Tire bills at the cash counter as a reward for my patronage, and finishing as I stuff the paper into the donation bin by the exit. Have you seen these bins? The money isn’t much, but it all adds up to help kids from low-income families participate in sports and recreation.

My friend Jeff recently shared a lovely story that centers on Canadian Tire money. Well, truthfully it centers on his six-year-old son, who was born in Haiti and became a cherished part of Jeff’s family last year in B.C.

You can imagine how many questions a small child might have after leaving a poverty-stricken land freshly devastated by an earthquake and moving to an entirely new country. Maybe there were questions about snow and school and hockey and big brothers. But at least one question came up when Jeff’s youngest son saw those donation bins in their local Canadian Tire store for the first time. He asked dad about them.

“When I explained what they were for, he was so happy to put his newfound money in there. He didn’t hesitate for a second,” Jeff wrote to me, adding: “He once lived with literally nothing, and now he gives so freely. It was such a great – and humbling – moment.”

It makes me think of a few lines from that old Monty Python standard, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”:

“What have you got to lose? You know, you’ve come from nothing, you’re going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!

Jeff’s youngest child may be only six. But he already seems to know that when we give, we’ve got nothing to lose.

Little boy on a bicycle

Is our pint-sized superhero hot on the trail of his next good deed?

6 responses to “You Just Can’t Lose

  1. Hi Lisa – great story! In answer to your question of “Who is that guy?”. He’s a fictional character named…wait for it…Sandy McTire!! A true Canadian icon.

  2. Now I’ve learned something new. Sandy McTire, huh? Points docked for rather unoriginal name! Then again, it was the ’50s.

  3. Lorin MacDonald

    I love this post – children are so wise, aren’t they? I’ve just spent the last few days for my annual spring cleaning and purging of my home, with boxes of designated items being sent to various charities. Books to the public library for their annual book sale to raise funds for community programs, cleaned-out pantry items to the local homeless mission, clothes to Value Village, other items to Goodwill, and toiletries to a women’s shelter. It makes me feel good to recycle these items within my community for the benefit of others and makes my home visually and emotionally lighter. Kind of a win-win, wouldn’t you say? 🙂

  4. Absolutely! I love the purge when it involves lots of giveaways – no landfiller’s guilt! And it’s just as you said, your home and your well-being both benefit from it.

  5. Great. Such experiences saw seeds of charity and a sense of belonging to a Universal Family.

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