Give without expectation and it comes back

Civitan Volunteers for NC Special Olympics

Bill and Darlene came by and picked up 600 oatmeal raisin
cookies bound for the NC Special Olympics

As a gourmet cookie company, we certainly get our share of requests for donations. We try our best to balance the needs of the business while giving back to the community. One of our favorite groups to support is the NC Special Olympics. We’ve been providing cookies to fuel these athletes for the past several years. Bill and Darlene McKenney are friends and members of the Wake Forest Civitan Club. Members of the club volunteer and serve lunch to the athletes.

This year, we added labels to the cookie packages with a few words of encouragement to support their quest to give their best effort. In addition to a great cookie, we wanted to add a little extra to help put a smile on 600 or so faces when they are giving it their all.

I received another request today from an organization, and while it might be a worthwhile event, I decided to pass. They asked for free cookies as gifts and prizes for a member reception. In exchange for the gift, I was to get my name in front of 100 or so ‘potential customers’.

I’m certain that I’ve lost out on plenty of promotional opportunities in the past, but that’s not the primary reason we donate. Supporting a group just to (hopefully) make a profit some time in the future is simply not my style. I like to think we put our support to work where it can really make a difference.

That’s not to say I don’t get repaid many times over when we give. It just seems to come back to me when I least expect it. A surprise. A small measure of gratitude. A sign post that lets me know I’m on the right path. Last week, it came from Tim Minard, a hot dog vendor at Waterfront Park in Louisville, KY.

The Two Annas

We ventured back to Kentucky for a weekend wedding. We spent a day driving around Louisville and decided to take my two Anna’s (that’s another story) down to the Waterfront Park on the Ohio River. The river is not for swimming, but it did not take the girls long to find water spouts to take the edge off the 95 plus degree heat.

We were walking around and Debbie left her purse in the car. She is the keeper of cash in our family. The girls asked for some water so I strolled over to the hot dog stand to see what I could find.

I asked if they accepted credit cards. “No, I’m sorry we don’t. What did you need”. I explained that I was looking for some water for my daughter and niece, but had only plastic for payment. He pulled out a couple of bottles and handed them to me before I could say no. “No charge” he said.

I noticed he was wearing a visor with the Special Olympics logo on it. Turns out that Tim is a big supporter of Special Olympics and recently helped raise more than $70,000. His company, Dogs on the Run, works with Special Olympics Indiana for Area 2. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he understood what it means to give something back with no expectation of a return. Just because it is the right thing to do.

It was not until after he gave me the water that I shared my story of donating cookies for the athletes. Maybe it was pure coincidence, but I said a quiet ‘thank you’, smiled and enjoyed a conversation with a new found friend.

If you happen to be in Louisville, I’d recommend you get off on River Road and look for the Dogs on the Run cart. Tim will serve up a fine dog, a cold drink and a friendly smile. And you can be sure that some small measure of what you spend will help an athlete you’ll never meet at next year’s Special Olympics. You can smile knowing that you made a difference in the life of someone out there giving their best effort. In my book, that’s what it means to give something back.

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