The Reason For The Season: A True Story of Giving

Posted by on Dec 16, 2011 in blog | Comments Off on The Reason For The Season: A True Story of Giving

The following is an excerpt from the blog of local OPS second-grade teacher, David Cumming. As an educator, Cumming’s primary goal is to teach his students the lessons that will prepare them for life, but as the story below reveals, it is Cumming’s students that have taught him the most valuable of life’s lessons.

My principal recently released the demographic breakdown of our school for the current school year. If you’ve read some of the blogposts prior to this one, you know how proud I am to work in a culturally diverse school. Diversity is the reason I teach where I teach.

Anyway, over 40% of our students are African-American. The second highest percentage is Hispanic (Mexican, Guatemalan, and Honduran). Followed by Asian, Caucasian, Native American, African and mixed race. We’re sort of like Walgreens. We have a little of everything.

Needless to say, we’re diverse. But like I’ve written about before, there is one common thread that links all of the students together. It’s the chain that bonds them together.


Of our 268 students, 99.6% qualify for our free or reduced lunch program. I’ll save you the long division. We have one student in the entire school that doesn’t qualify for free or reduced lunches.

Now I could take you on a journey through the daily struggles of poverty. But I don’t know anything about living in poverty. I’ve never come close to experiencing it personally. I wouldn’t be able to do much more than retell stories I’ve heard students tell.

I could try to influence you to do something to help those living near you who are in desperate need of help. But that’s not what I’m going to do either. You’re probably already aware of people in need and places to serve.

Instead, there’s a lesson to be learned from these children living in poverty. It catches me off-guard time and time again. My students love to give.

Despite not having much to give, they give. It doesn’t matter that they are coming from homes that qualify for free or reduced lunches. They give.

And you know what, they never give begrudgingly. They never give as if their mom or dad is making them give. They never give to satisfy some sense of guilt. They give because they want to. They want to show that they care about you.

Last week, one of my students brought in a plastic sack filled with what appeared to be an object the size of a NBA basketball wrapped in layers of newspaper. On the top layer of newspaper, it was evident that he’d had a little trouble figuring out exactly how he wanted to address the gift. After a few attempts that had been scribbled out, he’d written “Merry Christmmas” in black ink. He proudly gave it to me and told me it was for “Ms. Tiffany” (my wife) and me. I gladly accepted the gift and told him I was anxious to see what it was.

Fearing that the other students might make fun of what was underneath all of the newspaper, I waited to open the gift until my students were at music class. When I began to open the gift, I found the newspaper to be carefully wrapped and taped. I peeled back layer upon layer. The basketball-sized gift kept getting smaller and smaller with each piece of newspaper I removed


Finally, I reached the center of the newspaper and found the gift my student so eagerly gave. It was a well-worn, stuffed, pink bunny. Why he thought I needed it, I’m not exactly sure. But I appreciated it nonetheless.

I wish I could say that the well-worn bunny was some long, lost treasure that I’d been searching for. Or that it was at the top of my Christmas list. It wasn’t.

But I appreciate everything that it symbolizes.

It reaches far beyond the tradition of giving Christmas gifts. It’s about sacrificing something of value (your time, your possessions, your talents) for the benefit of someone else.

Despite his circumstances, this boy gave up something he had in order to try to make someone else’s day better. You may not have a worn out, slightly filthy, pink bunny that can make a difference in someone’s life. But you certainly have something to give. So do it.