For months, I have remained silent, desiring no recognition or acclaim for my altruism. Now, however, I feel it is time for me to step forward and admit to my magnanimous deed, only in the hope that I might inspire others to act so selflessly. Yes, I am the anonymous hero who donated all those old legwarmers to Goodwill.
It was I, motivated not by a desire for plaudits, but only by the notion that I might help those less fortunate than myself. Those poor souls who haven't the means to pay for new legwarmers and would be left to brace against the cold, their legs exposed to the harsh elements from mid-calf to ankle.
I sought no credit, no accolades, no monetary reward when I drove over to the Riverside Drive Goodwill on that April day. So that I might remain unrecognized, I stole up to the 24-hour Donation Station in the parking lot under the veil of night and stuffed the bulging JCPenney's bag full of legwarmers into the after-hours drop box. Then I drove off quickly, all the while wondering whose lives those brightly colored half-stockings would touch.
Would it be a small, shivering child, facing the bitter chill of winter as she walks to school to gain an education and nobly improve her lot in life? Or an elderly widow, all alone in a small, drafty house as she struggled to cover her frail legs with a blanket that always slips to the ground? Or a promising young ballet dancer, talented enough to perform Swan Lake yet too impoverished to obtain the basic lower-body outfitting necessary to pursue her dreams?
I could have dropped the old legwarmers off during the day so that I might obtain a charitable-donation tax-deduction receipt–not to mention a smile of heartfelt gratitude from a Goodwill worker. But that was not why I did this deed. It was simply the right thing to do.
True, the Donation Station was right on the way home from East Towne Mall, where I'd just gone to buy new summer curtains for the girls' bedroom. Still, dropping them off required getting off at the Riverside Drive exit when I was hungry and had not yet eaten dinner.
What, you no doubt ask, drives a person to act so selflessly? How are some courageously noble while others allow their spirit to wither away in stony inaction? I cannot say, for it is something unknowable deep within the soul.
That is why, when I was cleaning out the spare room in the basement and found the bag of legwarmers in an array of early-'80s colors–teal, neon yellow, watermelon pink, and turquoise–I did not hesitate for a second before deciding to commit the whole lot to charity.
I realize I have been blessed. I have a husband and two happy, healthy children. We live in a nice subdivision on the west side of town. While not rich, we are comfortable. Some in my position might gaze down with indifference at those below them on the social ladder. I, however, would never be so cold. I would never think to withhold legwarmers from the needy just to preserve my position of advantage.
Again, I ask for nothing in return. I have never asked for anything for the many other selfless acts I have committed over the years: the time I bought a plastic "buddy poppy" to support the VFW, the cookies I baked for the church bake sale, the day I took the time to help an elderly woman understand the Extra Value menu at McDonald's, and that rainy night I called the police on my cell phone to tell them I'd just driven by a car with a flat.
Sometimes I wonder what became of the legwarmers I so generously donated three months ago today. Whose legs are they warming? Do the wearers ever stop to wonder from whence their gift of leg warmth came? Perhaps. But it matters not. What's important is that they know somebody out there cared enough to help. Those less fortunate souls can take comfort in the knowledge that some unnamed being is looking out for them, and the world will not seem like such a harsh and uncaring place.
Yes, thanks to my selfless act, a few more people in this world will go to sleep tonight with warm calves… and hearts.