Authentic Gifts

chocolate eggIt is National Reading Month, and I am an author invited to speak to grade-school children at the local Catholic school. I am unsure what to talk about. I do not write books for children. But my own daughters attended this school when they were young, and I write books. Apparently, these are good enough credentials.

I tell the attentive, upturned faces a story from the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store about a child who donates a brand-new Spiderman coat because he loves Spiderman, and he knows there could not be a better gift for poor children. His mother tries to talk him out of it, but he insists, and the coat is given away.

The school children nod their heads in complete understanding. They like this story. It sounds like truth to them.

At the end of my talk, they applaud. Two representatives present me with a potted Easter lily and a package of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs.

I think the flower was the teacher’s idea.

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Jane Knuth
Jane Knuth is the author of Thrift Store Saints: Meeting Jesus 25¢ at a Time and Thrift Store Graces: Finding God’s Gifts in the Midst of the Mess. She has been volunteering at the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the last 17 years. She is also a math tutor. Knuth and her husband, Dean, live in Portage, Michigan.


  1. O to have the heart of a child who would love as this. One who sees not the cost but the love and compassion for another, enough to give the new coat away, “for to such belongs the kingdom”. Bless the others for seeing this as worthy of applause.
    Thank you for a thought provoking note.


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