Editor's Note: Love Stories




My daughter Elizabeth is a budding young writer and a bit of an idealist. Her English teacher asked her to come up with a creative writing project where two holidays get mixed up, à la “Nightmare Before Christmas.” Elizabeth agonized over this for awhile, but finally settled on a merger of Valentine’s Day and the 4th of July. In her story, a young girl writes a letter to the President suggesting that, since her teacher makes her give Valentines to all her classmates, whether she likes them or not, why don’t Presidents send Valentines to all the other world leaders, no matter how bad we say they are? And, she adds, since we take pride in our own country on the 4th of July, why not use the next week to celebrate something good about all the other countries of the world? The fictional President takes the little girl’s advice and one thing leads to another. Soon the 14th of July becomes an international day of setting aside differences. Leaders and citizens of rival nations begin writing notes of love and respect to one another. Peace breaks out. I’m sentimental enough to be charmed, and cynical enough to scoff. I suspect the world won’t be saved without some extreme divine intervention, but that shouldn’t stop folks from trying. My friend Kathy is another sweet idealist. She’s one of those rare folks (you probably know one) who keeps track of everyone. She knows the birthdays and ages of every friend she has made over the years, including everyone in my family. If any of us ever failed to get a handwritten birthday or holiday card from her, I’d notify the rescue squad to inspect her home. As one who can barely keep my own kids’ birthdays straight, I’m impressed, and touched, by her thoughtfulness. Before Christmas, Kathy sent a note to us, and apparently to her entire “mailing list,” explaining that she was raising funds to purchase an “Ark” with the Heifer Fund. The Heifer Fund (www.heifer.org) is a charitable organization with a good reputation. Through them, donors can provide farm animals to Third World villages in need with the stipulation that the offspring of the animals should be shared with other villages. An Ark is a pretty substantial gift — dozens of animals: donkeys, camels, chickens, ducks and sheep. It requires a donation of $5,000. Ambitious, I thought, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Kathy. Truth is, if it were anyone but Kathy, I’d have probably made a mental note that I have my own charities, and let it go. Kathy had never asked for anything before, so we wrote a small check and sent it with our Christmas wishes. Just before New Year’s Eve, we got an envelope from Kathy. Along with a personal note it held a form letter and a printed thank-you card. The card and letter were from Heifer Fund. Turns out that Kathy’s little circle of friends raised enough money for not one, but three Arks of farm animals to be sent to needy villages, with a few thousand dollars left to spare. Maybe the world isn’t so hopeless. Maybe Elizabeth should write a letter to the President. - Rick Broussard

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