In August we had the privilege of producing a video about a school backpack charity event. What struck me most in watching this event unfold was the evidence of commitment. Sure, there’s the
commitment of the hundreds of volunteers who collect school items, pack school bags and distribute them. It pales in comparison to the commitment of the families who come to get the backpacks.
The giveaway was set to start at 9 a.m. Families started gathering at dusk. The parents largely work in low-paying jobs with few benefits – they drive buses, work in restaurants or in retail, or as janitors. Just to be in line they had to have registered with the organization and obtain the paperwork that authorized them to receive a school bag for each of their children. It takes courage to humble yourself to accept charity.
When we arrived at twilight with the cameras, hundreds of people were waiting. We heard snoring and soft conversations. We watched parents feeding young children and small groups of youngsters playing or talking with friends. The parents were in better humor than I would have been if I had slept outside all night in a wobbly lawn chair surrounded by strangers and kept a watchful eye making sure my kids were safely sleeping, and now facing another three-hour wait without so much as a decent cup of coffee. These are people who are used to waiting patiently. I was in awe of their quiet determination.
The Commitment to a Better Future
The backpack give away was like a giant but low-key birthday party where everyone gets a present. Minus the cake, punch and games. There were no surprises; they knew the presents were on the one hand, school supplies, yet on the other, the key to a better future. They were eager for the key.
So think about this for a minute. If you or I need a few pens and notebooks and a zippered bag to carry them around, we go to the store, pick out what we need and come home. It may take an hour and the whole kit and caboodle costs $100. The Social Security Administration says the national average wage last year was just shy of $43,000. So figure for the average person the shopping and work time combined is four hours.
Now remember, people started waiting in line at roughly 8 p.m. Those first in line were done by 10 a.m. Throw in an hour to get there and home again and another hour to earn the money to get there and home again, plus the effort to get the right paperwork, and it’s easily 20 hours.
Do you have that kind of determination? Would you spend 20 hours for some school supplies? What if you worked two part-time jobs and had to rely on public transportation that was blocks from your home? Would you still have the courage it takes to do what these parents did?
“If you deny yourself commitment,
what can you do with your life?”
~ American Actor Harvey Fierstein
The next time I’m tempted to give up, to break a commitment I have made to myself or my family, I hope I remember the commitment I saw from these people.
We all have the right to bring commitment to everything we do, and that is my Fourth Amendment.
Life is Honest, Open and True: What obstacles do you have to overcome to reach your most cherished dreams? What causes you to say they require too much sacrifice?