By Larry G., South Philly, PA (Joanie’s story is true — but her name has been changed.)
Each Christmas when making her rounds delivering mail at the office Joanie would drop off a small candy cane to everyone she saw. It was her way of saying “thank you” for a great year. Every year I took that candy cane and hung it on the tree. It came from Joanie. It was special because it came from the heart.
Joanie had been working in a large office building in the mailroom for about 12 years. It was a job she loved. It gave her a chance to have fun with her co-workers, have regular office chit chat, and enjoy an 8-hour day. Joanie was a remarkable young woman. Overcoming a learning disability and other challenges as a person with some special needs.
She was bright, personable, competent and appreciated by everyone she came in contact with. The mailroom was her home. It was the place she worked and the place that gave her an identity. Joanie loved the mailroom.
She had challenges but none so outstanding that it stopped her from going on vacations. Or concerts. Or sporting events. Or doing her job in the mailroom.
And each year she gave everyone a candy cane.
To everyone’s surprise, one year Joanie announced she was retiring. She was still young — not quite 40 years old. And she loved her job. But her dad had passed away. She lived with him, her mother and brothers and sisters. And her dad left her an amazing amount of money. Her siblings got the same.
So Joanie decided to retire from working. That’s what most of us would probably do. She was going to take a vacation. Again, something that most of us would do.
And then you know what?
She was going to donate some of the money to a charity that helps people like her. People who need a little extra help. Or a someone to give them a break. The people who have so much to offer if only given a chance. An opportunity. They can show you what they can do. How they can achieve.
She was also going to volunteer helping people with challenges just like she has. Telling them her story and how they can succeed. That they are able. Yes, they have to try harder. Yes, they may need someone to take a chance on them. But they can achieve. They can succeed. They are just as important and inspirational as anyone else. Anywhere. Period.
Isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas. Giving yourself. Helping those who need that little extra. Here is a young woman who understands the challenges and who wants to help those in the same situation to succeed.
Joanie is an inspiration. And there are Joanie’s everywhere. God has blessed us having her touch our lives. And a simple candy cane hanging on the tree says more about the human heart and the human spirit than any other ornament.
Have you heard about Santino’s Dragons? It is the magnificent story a young boy with Autism who started drawing dragons on t-shirts. The t-shirts have caught on and for sale. And Santino has said he wants to donate a percentage of the earnings to The Center for Autism so that “they can help more kids like me.” You can support Santino’s Dragons by visting http://santinosdragon.myshopify.com
You can learn more about autism at www.thecenterforautism.org
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