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We’re in the final ramp up to the Christmas holiday. How quickly it has arrived! Amid all the hustle and bustle of preparing for this joyous occasion, it’s so easy to forget that it is the season of giving. I was reminded of this myself when a colleague shared a holiday story with me.

Years ago, her sister, who was an elementary school teacher, happened to notice one of her students was arriving at school in a lightweight jacket – no hat, no gloves. This was particularly noteworthy as the onset of the winter freeze had arrived quite early that year. When she asked her student if she had forgotten her coat, the little girl replied that her mom said the store was all sold out of winter coats in her size. And that’s why she was wearing her jacket instead.

The teacher knew the code as she had heard a similar heartbreaking story far too many times in her years of working with hundreds of children. This little fourth grader was destined for a cold and damp winter.

That weekend, my colleague and her sister took a ride to Kohl’s and picked out the warmest pink winter coat, hat, and mittens they could find. That following Monday, the teacher asked the little girl to stay for a few extra minutes after school. When all the other children had left the room, the teacher pulled out the coat and gave it to the little girl. Her eyes got big and began to well up when she realized that beautiful, pink puffy coat was a gift for her. She didn’t speak a word, just reached down and immediately put on the coat with matching hat and mittens. Luckily, everything fit like a charm. The little girl thanked her teacher and told her it was the most beautiful coat she had ever seen.

In total, my colleague and her sister spent about $60, a very small price to pay for such a huge impact on one little girl’s life – not to mention the joy they experienced through the simple act of giving. It truly was a memorable Christmas.

As we wrap our gifts to place under the tree and fill our shopping carts for a holiday feast, let us not forget there are so many others who can do neither. We won’t always know who they are. They could be your neighbor, your co-worker, or a student in your child’s classroom. For those of us who have been blessed with good fortune, I’d like to encourage us all to share that blessing so others can have a happy holiday season too.

Toys for Tots, Operation Warm, or your local food pantry are great places to start.

On behalf of the entire Wind River family, I’d like to wish everyone a very safe and happy holiday season.