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I have always felt our industry provided us with countless ways of helping our communities. Whether that means sponsoring community events or picking up an active duty soldier arriving at a local airport, there are many ways we can help. A recent event involving a sweater given to me by Ford-Lincoln at a limo show made me think about how many homeless people we see out on the road and how much we can help, one person at a time.
I recently volunteered for morning clean-up duty after a charity dinner. It was a brisk morning. I looked for a sweater that would keep me warm, yet suitable for getting filthy dirty. A 15-year-old Lincoln logo sweater was the perfect choice. It was free and it could be disposed of if needed. As it turns out, I shed it immediately since it was too warm for the job. I ended up forgetting it when I left. Since it was still clean, and usable, and I still liked it, I called my friend Jessica who stayed behind. I asked her to put it in her car and I would get it later. Later would never come.
The next day, Jessica had a business meeting at a local coffee shop. Through the large plate glass window, she observed a homeless man with a shopping cart sitting outside. He was shivering in the cold morning air and probably hoping some nice person would by him a cup of coffee. That person would no doubt be my friend Jessica.
Jessica went to her car to see if she had a blanket she could give him. She saw my 15-year old, free Lincoln logo’d fleece sweater. She gave it to him. At the moment of passing it to him, her intention was to simply buy me a replacement sweater. However, she spied the Lincoln logo and knew this sweater was a one-of-a-kind, limited edition Lincoln logo’d sweater. She called me sounding upset and near tears as she explained what she had done. She couldn’t take it back. This man now had warmth from this small gesture of kindness.
Honestly, I didn’t mind one bit. It was, after all, 15-years old and cost me nothing. My only attachment was sentimental and this man’s need for warmth far exceeded my sentimental need to hold on to it or even ask for a replacement. Instead, a light bulb went off in my head about how many people we can help. If you think about it, collectively, each day we have thousands of professional chauffeurs out driving thousands of vehicles and seeing the problem of homelessness firsthand. We have the ability with this army of people to touch lives across the nation if only for a brief moment.
I challenge each of you to set a monthly budget for your company or yourself. I have set mine at $100 each month. I plan to buy 10 gift cards valued at $10 each for Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Visa Gift Cards, and similar cards and give one to each person I come across who needs a little help. I am motivated not only by Jessica’s random act of kindness, but also the fact that last month a 5-year-old girl died in a fire in my city because her family was homeless and something they were using for warmth caught fire and burned their makeshift structure down killing her.
There's more need and heartache out there than we can all keep up with. But your company can help one random person, one random encounter at a time.
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