"But I feel good doing this!" the little boy´s answer rang in my ears when I walked into the mall.
He stood right outside the entrance to a shopping mall. In the bitter spring wind, nose red, hat deep over his ears, warming his hands in his pockets, holding the list in the other hand. I noticed he had no gloves.
I checked my purse but had no coins. It is a principle of mine to always give money to cancer research - I had lost dear friends and family members to the disease and wanted to do my little part to help find the cure.
"I´ll bring you some money when I come back," I promised the little boy.
"Thank you!" he smiled and sneezed in a big tissue. A very worn tissue, I might add.
I looked at him. If you have ever seen little children who refuse to come out of cold water, you know the color of his lips. He was frozen.
"What are you doing out here? I asked him, - You´ll get yourself a flu! Come inside the mall."
"I´m sorry, but I can´t"
"But of course you can!"
"No, you see, the guard there said no one is allowed to gather money for charities in the mall without written permission from the manager. He said if I wanted, I could stay out here, but I could not come inside. It is forbidden to beg there."
I could not believe my ears. I looked inside, but could not see a guard. If I had I sure would have gone to him to let him know what I thought of such rules.
"But I feel good doing this here too, it´s OK. It really is," the boy wanted to convince me.
"Ok, just be here and I´ll give you some money when I get back."
I did my shopping and thought about buying a cup of hot chocolate to the little boy, but I could not. Hadn´t I always warned children not to take anything from strangers? And besides, what if he had diabetes or something?
But now I had coins at least to give to him… Out of impulse I turned back before I got out and went to a clothes store. I bought a pair of mittens, blue ones. The cashier looked at me questioningly when I mumbled the boys word´s to myself.
"But I feel good doing this..."
He stood right where he had been.
"Ok, now give me your list," I said to the boy and he handed it over with a pen.
I looked at the empty lines. A few signatures were there and I could see others had given a few coins too. Nothing much, but at least he had collected some money.
"Do you need to get all these lines filled?"
"Yes. Or no, I don´t have to, but I want to."
"In this cold weather? Why would you want that?"
"Because my best friend Pete has leukaemia. I want to help him," he said solemnly.
I felt like choking. To gain my balance again I took the blue mittens from my bag.
"Here, I got these for you," I said and pushed the mittens into his hands. "Please take them. I noticed you had forgotten yours at home."
"Thank you! Very kind of you!" he said and actually bowed, "Now I can stand here a lot longer than I thought!"
"Well - what do you get for yourself? Will they give you something as a thank you for doing this?"
"Oh yes!" the boy said and his eyes lit up with joy, "They sure do!"
"What do you get then?" I asked, hoping to hear he got some nice toy or perhaps a diploma.
He was smiling broadly now.
"I get a new, empty list!" he beamed.
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