Eight years ago, the Mitzvah Man organization received a unique request. The caller, Mrs. H., explained the following:
“Baruch Hashem, we are a wealthy family living in a luxurious home. Everything our family could possibly need is at our fingertips. Financially we are on top of the world. However, our 14-year-old son, Joey, just takes it all for granted. He is becoming extremely spoiled. We want to instill him with a sense of values, but he just doesn’t seem to be appreciative.
“I have an idea, but it might not work. We know that the Mitzvah Man organization sends volunteers to deliver food packages to the needy and elderly. Could you send a volunteer to pick up my son so that he could help him on his route?”
“It would be our pleasure,” answered the Mitzvah Man.
The next Thursday afternoon a volunteer named Avi went to pick Joey up. Their first stop was to load the car with the boxes.
Avi explained, “These food packages provide sustenance for those who are in financial trouble, are ill, or elderly. The people who get them have no families to provide for them. Today we have six deliveries to make. Thank you for helping with this act of kindness.”
It was a sweltering, humid summer day, the temperature reaching 95 degrees, It was not a day most would relish schlepping heavy boxes.
After loading the van, the first stop was to an apartment building where two families lived who were food recipients. Avi got out of the van and Joey asked him if he should wait for him.
“No, I want you to feel the mitzvah,” Avi responded.
Joey had never seen such a place in his life. The building was totally rundown. It screamed of poverty, which was something that Joey had never been exposed to.
Joey told Avi that he was not going to lift the boxes. But Avi responded that he needed his help.
“I will take one box and you will take one box.”
Joey looked up at the tenth floor and asked, “Why are the windows open? Don’t they have A/C?”
Avi said, “They can’t afford it. Not everyone can.”
Joey noticed all the flies in the building and hesitated. Avi was right there with him.
“We have no choice. This is poverty and this is how these people live their lives 24/7. Let’s go. These families are waiting for their food delivery. You go to apartment 10L, and I will go to apartment 8B. You go first.”
“How do I open the lobby door?”
“Simple. Put the box down, press the button to open the door, pick the box back up, and push the door open. Then, when you get to the apartment, knock on the door and leave the box there. Don’t wait for them to open the door. We don’t want to embarrass the family.”
Joey looked around. The sight of the inside of the dilapidated building gave him pause for thought.
Avi and Joey finished all the deliveries and by the end of their route they were both covered in sweat. Avi reported back to the Mitzvah Man that their mission was accomplished. He assumed that Joey would not be back.
The Happy Ending
Mrs. H. called the Mitzvah Man. “What did you do to my son? He loved it!”
“Excuse me, but what do you mean?” the Mitzvah Man asked.
“He wants to go again!”
Avi picked up Joey the following week. It was hot and humid just like the previous week. Joey did the deliveries like a pro. He continued to join Avi doing deliveries for another five weeks until school started.
His mother called the Mitzvah Man thrilled. “I think that this hesed has really made a difference. Joey is showing more appreciation for everything. I am incredibly grateful for the hesed that you did for our family.”
Eight years later Avi saw his old delivery buddy Joey, now with his own car, which is loaded full of food boxes!
When Avi approached Joey, Joey said to him, “I have my own car and I decided to dedicate myself to making food deliveries. The people need the food, and I am going to get it to them no matter what.”
Give your children the training to give to others early in life. They deserve your investment in making them ba’alei hesed. Doing hesed is best learnt young. Lead by example and it will produce results.