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Only a Dollar

November 2011


This past June, while visiting one of our sons and his family in Watertown, N.Y., I decided to go for a morning walk. Our son recommended a route that included a steep, mile-long hill.

As I neared the base of the hill, I noticed a man shuffling along about 200 yards ahead of me. He was carrying two small, white garbage bags, one in each hand. Gaining on him, I saw that his trousers and long-sleeved flannel shirt were old and worn. His dilapidated shoes looked like they had been up and down this hill a thousand times. “A very poor man,” I thought to myself.

Suddenly, the man veered to his right, crossed the highway and grabbed another garbage bag that a homeowner had placed on the curb. Now toting three bags, the man returned to my side of the street and proceeded to amble up the hill.

I wondered if this man’s only source of income was to walk this road every day scavenging the recyclables that kindly residents had put out for him.

Because my pace was faster than his, I started thinking about what I might say when I caught up with him. At the same time, I remembered that I had stuffed a dollar bill in the pocket of my sweat pants before leaving the house that morning.

Halfway up the hill, I reached the man and said hello. He turned and smiled, revealing a mouth full of brown, decaying teeth. He said he did this every day, walking miles to a store, hoping his collectibles might earn a few pennies.

Feelings of compassion overwhelmed me. I thought of the Savior and of the many scriptures that he has given us to remember the poor and the needy and care for them.

Reaching into my pocket, I pulled out the dollar bill. Apologizing that it was only a dollar, I offered it to the man. When he took it, he looked at me, smiled the happiest smile, and meekly replied, “Thank you.”

Walking on, I felt an outpouring of the special joy that comes whenever we help God bless His children. As stated in Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

It was only a dollar. But it had made me feel like a million bucks.

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