So, a vet technician, a writer, a bank teller, and some school kids walk into a room. Or a barn. Soon the whole neighborhood joins them. And out comes a man with a precious new kitty. Cue the applause.
The man? Our neighborhood guy, Chuck. He is our neighborhood guy because he spends all day taking care of our St. Paul neighborhood. Daily, Chuck can be seen crossing school children, pulling weeds, picking up trash, even touching up aging lamp posts with just the right shade of paint! He is out there every day, rain or snow or wind; even in these increasingly rare sunny November days.
Chuck had a cat. Ashley. He loved his orange and white tabby with all his heart. When he was not working, Chuck could be seen in the neighborhood, introducing the schoolchildren and other passersby to his “baby”.
I met Chuck last spring in our local vet’s office. I was there with my ailing kitty. And Chuck was there with Ashley. Chuck was so worried; Ashley had not been eating. Ashley was getting old…I wondered how much longer Chuck had with his beloved Ashley.
A few months later, I stopped in to ask the vet tech, Alicia, about Ashley. Although she hesitated to tell me (because of privacy concerns), she got permission from the doctor to talk to me, because she knew I was a friend of Chuck’s. She informed me that, sadly, Ashley had passed away. And that Chuck was just devastated.
During my earlier conversation with Chuck in the vet’s waiting room, I learned that he does all this work in our neighborhood without pay. It would threaten his pension if he earned money, but, more than that, he really does this out of the kindness of his heart. As he says, “I learned growing up that you get the most joy when you do good deeds with your heart, not for money or prestige.”
So, as technologically challenged as I am, I am proud to say that I started a GoFundMe account: “Chuck Needs a Kitty.” I went to the bank to open an account for the money we raised. The banker, Ellen, asked what the account was for … just making conversation. I told her about the kitty. How Chuck wanted an orange kitty to replace Ashley. Ellen said, “A friend of mine lives on a farm. Her cat just had kitties. I’ll call her and see if any of them is orange.” And, to our delight two of them were orange. I announced to the world, via Facebook, that the account was open for donations. And the money kind of trickled in.
The next day, I called one of the schools for whom Chuck is a crossing guard. I asked if they would like to promote this GoFundMe account. Lisa, one of the teachers, and Pat, the principal, were wildly enthused. “Oh, we love Chuck!” And within hours the donations were pouring in. Then, somehow, the other school got wind of the GoFundMe account. More donations poured in. Luckily, someone informed the local district council, and they spread the word. More and more donations came in. You gotta love Social Media. Although some pretty rotten things can spread, good can multiply too! So far, we have raised enough money to get the cat and to keep him healthy for many years to come.
Like Stone Soup, more and more people stepped forward. One resident works for a pet food company. She was able to donate cat food and kitty litter. Still another volunteered to drive him to get the new kitty. The vet offered first shots for free. And the local paper walked down to the corner to interview Chuck and take his picture.
People really do love being generous. And they especially love to be generous with the people that make a difference in their neighborhood.
And so, my little idea blossomed. With the help of a vet, a banker, a vet technician, school staff and students, neighbors, and a whole lot of generosity, Chuck has his new kitty. He loves him. And I think he is thinking of naming him Ashley, Jr.
If you'd like to donate, go to: https://www.gofundme.com/chuck-needs-a-new-kitty