Not long ago, I was cleaning out my attic and came across boxes containing all my old cheerleading uniforms. I had taken great care in packing them up thinking that someday I’d happily go through them again with my children, reminiscing about the role cheerleading played in my life.
As it turns out, I have two boys, and they have no interest in cheerleading. I decided to keep a few of my favorite ones and donate the rest to a local women’s shelter – one that houses children as well. They accept ‘costumes’ so that the children can dress up and suspend reality for a while. It was my hope that some little girls could have a great time playing in my old uniforms and transport themselves to a happier place where they’d be on a soft grass field cheering on their favorite team, far from the cold floors of their temporary home.
I dropped them off and went about my hectic but happy life. Then last week I received a phone call from a woman I knew at the shelter asking if they could release my name and email address to a resident who wanted to thank me for the donation. “Sure,” I replied.
You do not know me but I wanted to tell you just how much happiness you have brought to my 6-year-old daughter and me. *Sally plays in the cheerleading uniforms that you donated all the time. She has such a great time pretending that she is a cheerleader. She tells me that she wants to be a cheerleader when she grows up. I love seeing her happy. She hasn’t been in a while. Who knew some cheerleading costumes could do so much to lift a little girl’s spirits – and mine? I am forever grateful for your generosity, you may have just been getting rid of some junk, but to me, it’s such a treasure. I love seeing my little girl smile – what a blessing. I guess we need to get her into some cheerleading classes!
*Names changed for security
I re-read this email over and over again, trying to read between the lines and glean a greater understanding of the problems Susan and Sally are facing. But at the end of the day, I realized what matters is that a little girl has found some happiness in spite of the pain that surrounds her.
When Sally is older, I hope her cheerleading memories will be as wonderful as mine.
– Jenni Parrish