Giving Thanks

The plea was posted on a Facebook page where members post items they wish to sell. I don’t
recall the exact wording, only that the young mom of two, one, a son with chronic kidney
disease, was basically broke. She was in arrears on her rent after spending nearly every last dime
to bring her daughter home from San Diego where she spends time with her father. She had no
money for diapers or groceries or even gas to get to work, and pay day was still two weeks off.
She wasn’t asking for handouts, she wrote. But she made beaded jewelry and was hoping people
might be willing to barter for or buy them. Her name was Sherelle Schreiner. No one I knew.
I remembered a time when I was pretty much penniless. I was 19-years-old, thousands of miles
from home. It was winter in Alaska and my apartment was so cold, ice formed on the inside of
windows. Of course, there was no social media back in the day, and I was too proud to call home
for help. I was going to school full-time and had two part-time jobs that barely paid the rent. So,
I got by borrowing from the campus emergency fund – $50 max – and then of course, I had to
figure out how to pay it back so I could borrow it again. I pawned jewelry – $25 for a diamond
ring with a carbon spot on it. I did a little better with my Seiko watch, a gift from my last
Christmas at home. And I was lucky enough to have friends looking out for me. I say friends, but
really, I barely knew them. One guy stopped by my apartment one Saturday afternoon to ask if I
could help out waitressing at the lounge where he tended bar. At the end of my shift, I had a
pocketful of money, which I reached in and counted repeatedly. The bartender offered me a lift
home and we stopped at the grocery store so I could stock my empty cupboards. I walked the
aisles, eyeing prices, knowing I had only so much and not wanting to spend it all or worse, find
myself short. At the checkout, the cashier finished tallying my purchases and I saw I had enough
with a bit left over, though not nearly as much as I’d hoped. Then, as I pulled out my cash to pay,
the bartender waved me away, paying the tab out of his own wallet. I had groceries and I had
cash. You can’t imagine how rich I felt.
In early November, when I saw Sherelle’s post, I sent her a message asking to see the Seahawk
earrings she makes. I ordered a pair for $25. I don’t know long her post had been up, minutes,
maybe a few hours. But already she had all the diapers she needed, she had more orders for
jewelry than she could keep up with.
“I had an overwhelming response,” Sherelle told me. “Some people were just giving me diapers.
Others, I bartered earrings for. I bartered two sets for every box of diapers, and I made four or
five others and a key chain for a woman who responded to me and gave me leftover diapers. It
was more than enough. I did not expect that. Others just wanted to outright buy earrings.
I am still behind on earring orders. That’s how many I had. I still have about four more I need to
finish. There are people still messaging me after that weekend, asking if I am OK on diapers.”
Sherelle shared that first post on a Friday. On Monday, she returned to work at Chinook Winds
and sent me this note.
“It’s funny how things work out. The casino has this thing called a “pigskin challenge” where
employees sign up and each week pick which teams they think will win which games, I played
last year and didn’t win. I have been playing since the beginning of this season and did horrible.
“I was so stressed about diapers and money on Friday that I worked my butt off to barter/sell
earrings and then today I found out that I won the employee football challenge last week and
won $150.”
And, of course, I knew exactly how rich she felt.

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