December 25, 2019

A Christmas Story for our Donors

One December, over twenty years ago, I was taking a break from a long afternoon of Christmas shopping.  I had already hauled a load or two of purchases back to my car and was feeling tired and chilled as it was an exceptionally cold evening.  I was pleased that I was almost done—only a few small things left to buy.

I was in the line at a fast food restaurant for a coffee and a snack to fortify me for the rest of the shopping I had to do.  Behind me was a shivering young man of about 19, wearing a thin sweater and no coat. He made a comment about the cold as he patted the snow off his sweater.

Surprised, I asked him, didn’t he have a coat? He replied yes, but, his girlfriend was wearing it. While he came to get some food, she was wearing the coat, waiting for him in an alley up the street. He told me it was okay when they were together. The coat was pretty big, he explained, and they could both sort of wear it.

They lived on the street. In Ottawa. In winter. And they shared a coat.

I was called to the cash, ordered, and took a seat. The young man ordered and left by the time I sat down. I sat there and looked at the packages of things I had bought.  Minutes earlier, I had been pleased that I had bought so much.  Now I felt guilty and awful.  I had spent hundreds of dollars that afternoon, and this kid didn’t have a coat.

I wish I could tell you that I rushed around the streets to find the kid, and bought him a coat. I wish I had. I think about it often, and with shame and regret. I hope I will be a better person next time.

What does this story have to do with animals? Nothing, really. What does it have to do with Christmas?  Everything. 

Merry Christmas and thank you for remembering all the less fortunate— humans and animals.

Bruce Roney
President and CEO