Acts of kindness are always important, but during this pandemic, they seem more important than ever. Take the following example:
A woman we know was grieving for her just-deceased mother when there was a knock on the door. Another woman, one she had never seen before, was standing there with a container of vegetable soup. Introducing herself, she said, “I brought you some vegetable soup. It’s yummy. Go ahead and have some while it’s hot!”
The grieving woman took the container, and as she did so, she said, “But I don’t even know you! This is so kind!”
The bearer of the yummy vegetable soup answered, “There’s a pandemic. We have to be good to each other. Acts of kindness are important now.”
“Acts of Kindness are Important Now!”
Empathy and extending a helping hand to others is important at any time, of course. But acts of kindness feel more relevant than ever during the coronavirus pandemic—even if it’s just a container of soup for a stranger in need. Reaching out to others feels like putting goodness out into the ethos, at a time when things are very bad the world over.
But then, it has always been our way at Kars4Kids to respond to those in need of our help. It is our mission, of course, to educate and mentor children: to support and work with families to be the best they can be. Somewhere outside our mission, however, is the occasional story of a child unknown to us—a child not involved in any of our programs—who needs help. And when you feel your “heart strings” being tugged, you know it’s time to step in and help however you can with acts of kindness.
Baby Reef Carneson
Two such children that come to mind are Baby Reef and Parker Monhollon. Now 12, at five months old, Baby Reef Carneson was diagnosed with high risk infant ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia). After the doctors in his native South Africa ran the limit of what they were able to do for the baby, his parents took the huge step of relocating to the United States, to consult with top medical specialists. At some point, the Carneson family was referred by the doctors at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles to the oncology unit of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio for Baby Reef to receive the expert treatment he required.
That, however, necessitated traveling cross-country to relocate. The Carneson’s finances had been depleted by Baby Reef’s medical needs and the move from South Africa to the United States, plus the issues of finding new employment while caring for a sick child. Kars4Kids heard about this dire situation, and donated a car to the family, to help solve their problem and ease at least this one worry out of a host of so many other dire worries.
Did a car save Baby Reef’s life? Probably not. Twelve-year-old Baby Reef continues to suffer from a host of health problems, including squamous cell carcinoma of the head and face, and the Carneson family has an ongoing crowdfunding campaign to assist with the heavy financial burden of their son’s medical expense. But we stepped in to helped lift some of the burden on his family at a critical juncture. We looked to see what was needed by the Carneson family, and we did what we could to help.
Parker Monhollon, a talented dancer, was 8 when she was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). DIPG is a tumor located in the brain stem, and therefore inoperable. Perhaps you guessed that this story did not have a happy ending.
The Monhollon family never gave up trying to find the doctors and the treatments that would save Parker’s life. They never gave up on Parker. But some of the treatments they tried were not covered, and the expenses of traveling to faraway locations for new or experimental protocols were extracting a heavy toll on the family’s finances.
It didn’t look good for Parker, but we knew the family needed to keep trying to save her. We also knew that even if nothing worked, and the worst happened, the family, including two other (thankfully) healthy children, would still be bent under the burden of paying off the debts incurred during the little girl’s illness. As all of this became clear to us, we decided to send a check to defray some of the costs of Parker’s medical care and the family’s travel expenses.
As we sent off that check to the Monhollon family, our hope was that in addition to lifting some of the family’s financial burden, knowing that we cared might make a difference. An act of kindness may not always save a life, but sometimes the knowledge that another human feels your pain and wants to help, can make a difference. At times, that’s the most and the least you can do.