One mother was jogging through the park, pushing two toddlers in a
stroller. As they approached a hill, she said, “OK, now I need you
to help me.” And they did! As she started up the hill, they each
said, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . .”

Sometimes it just takes the desire to help and you can find a way.

One person known for his desire to help was Fiorello LaGuardia.
LaGuardia was mayor of New York City during the worst days of the
Great Depression and all of WWII. He was adored by many New Yorkers
who took to calling him the “Little Flower,” because of his name and
the fact that he was so short and always wore a carnation in his

In many ways, LaGuardia was bigger than life – he rode the New York
City fire trucks, raided city “speakeasies” with the police
department, took entire orphanages to baseball games and, when the
New York newspapers went on strike, he got on the radio and read the
Sunday funnies to the kids.

One bitterly cold night in January of 1935, the mayor turned up at a
night court that served the poorest ward of the city. LaGuardia
dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench himself.
Within a few minutes, a tattered old woman was brought before him,
charged with stealing a loaf of bread. She told LaGuardia that her
daughter’s husband had deserted her, her daughter was sick, and her
two grandchildren were starving.

But the shopkeeper, from whom the bread was stolen, refused to drop
the charges. “It’s a real bad neighborhood, Your Honor,” the man
told the mayor. “She’s got to be punished to teach other people
around here a lesson.”

LaGuardia sighed. He turned to the woman and said, “I’ve got to
punish you. The law makes no exceptions. Ten dollars or ten days in
jail.” But even as he pronounced sentence, the mayor was already
reaching into his pocket. He extracted a bill and tossed it into his
famous hat, saying, “Here is the ten dollar fine which I now remit;
and furthermore, I am going to fine everyone in this courtroom fifty
cents for living in a town where a person has to steal bread so that
her grandchildren can eat. Mr. Bailiff, collect the fines and give
them to the defendant.”

The following day, New York City newspapers reported that $47.50 was
turned over to a bewildered woman who had stolen a loaf of bread to
feed her starving grandchildren. Fifty cents of that amount was
contributed by the grocery store owner himself, while some seventy
petty criminals, people with traffic violations, and New York City
policemen, each of whom had just paid fifty cents for the privilege
of doing so, gave the mayor a standing ovation.

Sometimes it just takes the desire to help and you can find a way.

Someone beautifully said, “Sympathy sees and says, ‘I’m sorry.’
Compassion sees and says, ‘I’ll help.’” When we learn the
difference, we will make a difference.

– Steve Goodier


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