Giving from the Heart

This story happened some time in the past 10 years but I cannot say precisely when in order to protect the identity of the people involved.

On my desk is a Secret Santa Jar, a collection jar.  It’s half full of coins and there’s a solitary $20 bill.  We set a class collection goal and if we reach it I buy pizza.  We still needed to collect about $40.  What they don’t know is that I make sure we reach the goal.

Each year we collect money and non-perishable food items for families-in-need from our school community.  The families remain anonymous.  Our Secret Santa delivers a beautiful gift basket, food hamper, and gift cards to local department stores.

I was returning to my class from the teachers’ lounge before the bell in order to greet students as they returned: aka, manage chaos.  To my surprise a student was already in the class.  Unbeknownst to him, the young man belonged to a family that would be receiving a package from our Secret Santa.  He wasn’t the most honest kid and when I saw the $20 bill in his hand my heart dropped.

Rather than getting upset or making accusations based on the blatant evidence, I just looked at the money and then understandingly into his eyes and smiled a smile of “here’s your chance to make this right and fess up or come up with a good lie that I promise to believe“.

Sorry I came in early.  I wanted to put this in the jar without anyone seeing.

That’s really kind of you.

My dad and I collect cans from the dumpsters and trade ’em in for cash at the end of the month.  I got 50 bucks!  After I bought some presents and stuff I still had 20 bucks left and I wanted to put it in the jar.

That’s a lot of money.  Are you sure you want to donate it all?  You could take some change.

No.  Those people can use it more than me.  I’m doin’ ok and the class sure is gonna be happy when we get that Pizza party.

He walked passed me and quickly placed the bill into the jar before heading into the hall to put his coat in his locker.  Students began to fill the room.   When I sat down at my desk I was brought to tears by what I saw in the collection jar: two $20 bills.

Class! Don’t bring lunch tomorrow.  We’re having pizza!


The Beginning
About James Hudyma

Dad. Husband. Teacher. Canadian. Guitar Picker. Songwriter.

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  1. Beautiful!

    • James Hudyma says:

      Thanks Gina. I’ve been holding on to this story for a few years.

  2. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in this short account of events.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • James Hudyma says:

      My job helps me to see the good in everyone.

  3. Great, great story. Beautifully spun and warms the heart.

    • James Hudyma says:

      Thanks Brad. My intention in sharing it was to both warm the heart and to show that sometimes being wrong is a beautiful thing.

  4. Love it and the lesson I need to often be reminded of in my home. We tend to judge based on past experience and many times we’re right as we’re basing judgements on past actions. But each circumstance really needs to be met with a clear head because there’s damage that can be done when we don’t give the benefit of the doubt.

    • James Hudyma says:

      Well said. It is true that past actions are often a clear indicator of future actions and I was so happy to be wrong in this situation. I love what you said about the benefit of the doubt.

  5. FAVORITE BLOG POST… EVER! I often tell students, whether they believe me or not, that school is one of the few places where you get multiple second chances. You just have to seize them when they come around.

    • James Hudyma says:

      Thank you JB. This is one of those stories that I refer to when I’m feeling down or thinking the worst. Helps me focus on the good.

  6. From the mouths (and hearts) of children… Very touching story, thank-you for sharing that bit of happiness with all of us.

    • James Hudyma says:

      Thank you and you’re welcome.

  7. That is beautiful!

  8. Roshni says:

    Wonderful story about how we should not be quick to judge and so much more!! :))

    • EduDad says:

      I certainly learned that lesson and I also learned I’d rather be optimistic and let down than pessimistic and be proven right.

  9. Lana says:

    I work in the public school system and see firsthand the kids that need 2nd chances, or sometimes 3rd and 4th chances, and I applaud the teachers who always leave the door open. 🙂

  10. Thank you for this post and thank you for demonstrating how important it is to give children a chance and not rush to judgement (even if it is human nature to sometimes internalize the worst). As educators and parents we need to take a breath and try to see the good in children, so they can see the good in themselves. I just shared this on my Facebook page.

  11. Great story! I am a teacher myself and I’m always tempted to blame someone else when I misplace something (and it’s always me misplacing something, not a theft). I like the way you’re teaching kids to think selflessly of others…such a needed thing in their “technology-fashion” generation.

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