I always thought that my mother was a superhero. Not that she could fly, or shoot lasers out of her eyes (although, I have been on the receiving end of a few looks at the store that would beg to differ), but because my mother never ran out of room in her heart for anyone, or anything. My mother, Lee-Ann Huffman, is a mother to two children and two fur babies, a wife, an aunt, a best friend, a role model, a hard worker, and the most patient person that I have ever met.
I could go on and tell you about all of the wonderful things that she has done, but that would take about twenty nine different blog posts. But there is one project that she does every single year that has shaped my whole family and every one around us. One that we finished just this morning. She collects money she finds in the washer and dryer, and she puts it in a little jar that we all affectionately refer to as “The Charity Jar.” Every year she takes this money and she puts it toward something, a cause, an act of kindness, anything that can help someone. Sometimes she buys coffees for the next people in line at a coffee shop. Sometimes she buys something for an organization that needs it. It does not matter, though, she always find someone in need and takes care of them the best that she can.
If you ask her about this tradition, she will tell you that she is carrying on something that her mother used to do around the holidays. If you ask anyone else that knows her, however, they will tell you that she has a huge heart. She manages to get our whole family involved in this movement every single year. This year, she helped an organization that I was volunteering with weekly, Ruth’s Place, a homeless women’s shelter in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
I had been helping a professor run a writing workshop in the shelter when I noticed the wishlist that they had posted on the wall. Comforters, a DVD player, a coffee maker and supplies, things that I know I take for granted every day. I told my mom, and within a day she had already asked if our family wanted to help Ruth’s Place as our holiday tradition. We all agreed, and decided that the coffee maker and the supplies would be the best thing for our family to work on together. A few days later, she found a coffee maker, showed it to us, and with a few clicks, it was on its way to a new home. We gathered the rest of the supplies, and we called the shelter to find a day that we could take it up.
I drove my mom to the shelter this morning, extremely slow because she baked fresh chocolate cupcakes for the women, and they were sitting on my nice clean leather seats. She had never been in the shelter before, but the whole way up she talked about how excited she was to be able to check something off of their list.
When we took the donations inside, the women were so happy. She was happy. I was amazed. 10:45 in the morning, and she was bright eyed carrying chocolate cupcakes into a shelter full of women that she did not know. She stood by the front desk, thanking women for their compliments on her baking and talking to the volunteers as I filled out the donation sheet. As we left, I wished the women a happy Thanksgiving, and we were met with a chorus of asynchronous Happy Thanksgivings and Thank Yous. My mother teared up as we walked through the rain to my car. I did not have to ask why. I knew that she did not cry out of pity. She did not cry out of sorrow or commiseration. She cried because she was thankful to have the opportunity to help someone.
I am thankful for my mother, and the lessons that she has shown me in love and compassion. She has taught me to be empathetic and to show love to every life that I come across.
I can say with certainty that I am not the only one that she has made a better person.