The Snowball Effect of Generosity: A Gold Star Kid’s Story
Myles Eckert was rich. Well, at least as rich as any average 9-year-old ever really expects to be. Walking into a restaurant with his family, Myles had just found a $20 bill on the ground.
What to buy with it? Right in front of him were the shelves of his local Cracker Barrel Restaurant brimming with stuff a kid would love. Licorice, jaw breakers, old-fashioned lemon drops, peach cobbler filling. A dart gun set, a marble mania game, a toy tool box. Maybe he should just hold on to the cash and invest it in a video game. He and his sister Marlee even talked briefly about giving the money to their waitress as a tip. But then someone else walked into the restaurant–a soldier wearing camouflage fatigues and boots–and all of Myles’s plans changed. He borrowed a pen and scribbled a note:
My Dad was a soldier. He’s in heaven now. I found this $20 in the parking lot when we got here.
We like to pay it forward in my family. It’s your lucky day! Thank you for your service.
Myles Eckert, a gold star kid.”
And that’s when Myles’s generous thought began to multiply. Watch his story here:
The Generosity Snowball
Myles’s original twenty-dollar gift blossomed into thousands, and then into millions of dollars in donations to Snowball Express, a charity that benefits the children of fallen soldiers and first responders, and to other organizations whose mission is to help kids who have lost a parent to war. Today, I’m sharing his story as part of the #LIGHTTheWORLD initiative. Myles’s example has helped lift the burden of thousands of children whose holiday season is not always cheerful. Every December, the organization hosts a gathering of families in Dallas, Texas, and there, the families enjoy the comfort of being surrounded by others who understand their loss. That odd, “fifth-wheel” feeling the parents often feel, also disappears for a few days.
One mother, Jennifer Hanson wrote:
“This year was our first Snowball Express and while we were there, we marked our 5th month anniversary of losing my husband. It isn’t easy to put into words what Snowball Express meant to my 8-year-old daughter and me but I will try. I guess the easiest way to explain it is to simply state that it was the first time since losing my husband that I went 5 days in a row without crying. Sure, there were a few moments of filling up with tears. However, those were tears of gratitude and pride as our group was shown so much love and respect from the citizens of DFW and the Snowball Staff and Volunteers. Many people have asked me what my favorite part of the experience was. My answer to them is also simple. My favorite part was having so much fun with my daughter and seeing the joy in her face and witnessing her unbridled laugh for the first time in a long time. It was 5 days of feeling a bit more normal in the most abnormal year of my life.”
Amy Whistler, another mother, expressed gratitude to the volunteers who made their holidays brighter. Her kids were able to forget, at least momentarily, the pain of losing their father. “I watched them be kids…You made our loved one who died a hero and never once that weekend were they forgotten and for that I thank you!” she wrote in a letter of thanks to the volunteers.
Mile’s generous act was really only intended to bless the life of a soldier who stopped in for a quiet lunch with his family. But that’s the power of generosity. It has the ability to snowball into something bigger, brighter, and better once the ripple effect takes off. And Miles’s generosity continues to snowball to bless thousands of children who, like him, have lost a parent.