Regular readers know that I have generous friends and kindhearted pals. Turns out many of their kids are so brimming with kindness it takes your breath away. Ema (pronounced “Emma”) is the 19-year-old daughter of an old high school chum of mine. (Yes, I’m old enough to have school friends with 19-year-old children; moving on, moving on.) On a freezing-cold night in late January, Ema, a college student in Kingston, Ontario, spotted a disheveled man out on the street wearing a tattered coat, running shoes… and no socks.
The sight shocked her. It also moved her to instant action. “I don’t even think I took a moment to process it all before I was trying to find a bench to take off my boots and give him my socks. Before I knew it, he was gone.”
After that, she says, she couldn’t stop thinking about what she’d seen. You know when you feel like you’ve just got to do something extra to make a difference? Apparently, even 19-year-olds who go to college, work a part-time job and volunteer weekly at a mission for homeless people can feel as though they’re not doing enough. This night, Ema went straight to the dollar store after work and stocked up on the toastiest socks she could find, determined to bring warmth to a few people in need. “I was in tunnel vision mode,” she says. “All the other things going on in my life just went away.”
As she forked over a few of her hard-earned dollars, the cashier remarked cheekily: “Someone must be cold.” Ema fessed up. The socks were for street people. That’s when the man next to her told her she was amazing. (“I laughed so hard,” our modest Ema says. “I wouldn’t consider myself amazing. They’re just socks.”)
Next Ema headed to a main street to hand out her new purchases. “Everyone I saw along the way was extremely thankful,” she says. “Although they were originally asking me for money and smokes, they were blown away when I gave them socks.” You can imagine how rewarding that must have felt. Ema was on her way to catch a bus home when a man stopped her and asked: “How are the socks going?” It was buddy from Dollarama. Since even he looked like he could use a hand up, Ema gifted him one of the last pairs.
“He thanked me a few times, and we went on our separate ways,” Ema recalls. “Then he yelled back at me, ‘You’re amazing, Ema! I’ll never forget this, or you!’”
If there ever was any doubt that she’s made a difference.
“I know there a lot of shelters and groups who do a larger aspect of what I did. I know it didn’t make worlds of difference,” says this sweetie. “But I helped the people I helped for one night at least. It just felt like it was what I had to do.”
And proud mom? My friend admits her daughter is often too humble to talk about the good she’s doing in her community. “There truly are so many wonderful people out there,” she says. “We may simply not know it, because we just don’t know it.” Well said.