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Little Girl, Big Heart

Cora and I have recently started spending
some time at our local shelter doing storytime with toddlers and
preschoolers, and it’s certainly made Cora aware of the
bigger picture around us. When we took a peek into the new
“family” rooms in December, we saw the single room with
two sets of bunkbeds, a tiny closet, and one small shower bathroom
for a whole family. Cora thought it really cool – until she
found out it was for the WHOLE FAMILY.

Her eyes have been opened, and I know that she sees things
differently now. I mentioned last week’s upcoming trip back
to the shelter for another story time in a casual way, then changed
the subject and chatted, asking what Cora would like for lunch. She
was silent, and I asked lightly, “What are you
thinking?” and she replied, “About all the people at
the Inn who don’t get lunch when they don’t have a

Going back a few weeks more, Cora’s
eye was caught early in December by an Angelina Ballerina
dollhouse, and it became all she wanted for Christmas. I gently
reminded her that she already had a dollhouse – a very nice
Little People First Dollhouse she’d gotten last year for
Christmas. “Honey, if you got a new dollhouse this Christmas,
you’d have to box your old one up.”

“I know, I know!” she replied. “I’m happy
to do that and give it to a little girl who doesn’t have a
dollhouse of her own.”

Now, that sounds cool and all on paper, but parents know that when
push comes to shove, preschoolers have a hard time letting go of
stuff. But I made it clear that there would only be one dollhouse
in her room at a time, so when Cora got the new one for Christmas
she happily packed up her old one into a box – which I then
left in my room for a while, “just in case”.

Last week, though, as we got ready to go to the Inn, Cora talked
again about giving her dollhouse to another little girl. Now, many
times donations to such organizations go straight to their thrift
store for resale, and while that’s worthwhile I know
it’s not what Cora was hoping for, so I offered a compromise.
“How about this – we’ll bring your dollhouse box
to the Inn, and if there’s a little girl who needs one, we
can give it to them, ok? Otherwise we’ll keep it until we
find that little girl who doesn’t have one.” Cora
agreed, and off we went.

Story time went well, with Cora happily “helping” and
passing out snacks and patting kids on the back. When we first
arrived I mentioned the dollhouse to the child advocate, who said
she’d ask around. Afterwards, she said a case worker knew of
an almost-two-year-old who’d just moved out of the shelter
into her first apartment, and had literally no toys.


The case worker followed us to our car, promising to take the box
and hand-deliver it to the little girl. Cora was so excited she ran
over to the worker and hugged her happily. After we got home, she
said, “I bet that little girl is playing with it right now! I
bet she’s so happy!”

Cora’s eyes have indeed been opened, and life will never look
the same again.


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