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.