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Chapter 5: The Best Way to Help
Marissa, Tobi, Jake, and Manuel were walking home from the bus stop together.
“Where’s Benjie?” asked Manuel. “I just noticed he’s not with us.”
“Oh, he went home with a friend this afternoon,” said his big brother, Jake. “His friend’s mother picked them up after school.” “Too bad she didn’t have a big enough car for all of us,” remarked Tobi, as he stuffed his hands deeper in the pocket of his windbreaker. “It sure gets cold here in November!” “You’re going to need a warmer coat,” said Jake. “You aren’t in Nigeria anymore. It sometimes gets below zero here.” “Fahrenheit?” asked Tobi. He turned and looked at them unbelievingly. “I’ve never known weather that cold. How do you stay warm?”
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“You just have to bundle up,” said Manuel. “It was hard for me too when we first moved up here. By the way, where’s Rodrigo? He wasn’t on the bus and I didn’t see him all day.” “Oh, he has a cold, I heard,” answered Jake. “It’s going around.”
Tobi reached his apartment first, and the others walked on.
“You know,” said Marissa, “I wonder if some of the new immigrants at our school have warm clothes for this weather. Fortunately, my family could afford to buy me this parka and gloves, but what do you do if you can’t afford them?” “Let’s take a look around school tomorrow and see how everyone is dressed. This will give us a better idea,” said Jake. Several days later, the Highland Ridge Explorers all met for their next meeting. “You know,” began Jake, “Manuel, Marissa, and I were discussing the other day that some of Page 3 of 6 © RCL Benziger
us who are new to the city don’t seem to dress warmly enough in this cold weather. We got to thinking that maybe some people don’t have enough money to buy warm parkas and gloves and things. They can get really expensive.”
Tobi looked down uncomfortably. “It isn’t all that cold,” he said. “That’s not what you were saying when we were walking home into the wind the other day, “ Jake said, laughing. “My dad has a job,” said Rodrigo with a frown. “We aren’t poor! It just takes a lot of money to buy clothes for six kids, “ he said.
Keiko looked up. “You shouldn’t be embarrassed if you need a little help, Rodrigo. That’s what friends are for.”
“I’m telling you, we don’t need charity. My father would never accept it anyway.”
Ellie spoke up. “You know, this meeting has barely begun, and already we have identified a need.” “Well, my family for one does not want to have anything that hasn’t been earned, “ said Rodrigo. Page 4 of 6 © RCL Benziger
“Mine either,” said Tobi, in a quiet voice. “My parents would be too embarrassed.”
“You know, Jesus was poor, too, and he was always helping others in need,” said Ellie. “We aren’t poor!” said Rodrigo again, his voice rising. “I keep telling you, we aren’t poor!”
“Hey, everybody,” interrupted Jake. “We don’t need to fight about it. And Rodrigo, we didn’t mean to put you and Tobi on the spot. We only wanted to help.”
“I know, Jake,” said Tobi. “But this is not how we want to be noticed around here.”
Marissa broke in. “Look, we are embarrassing our new friends. But there really is an issue. Winter is long here, and we want everyone to be warm enough. Let’s think of some ways to help out without embarrassing anyone. It’s simple—that’s all we have to do.” She sat back again, looking satisfied with herself at having devised a solution.
Tobi began to protest again, but Jake interrupted. “Look Tobi. It’s not about you. Page 5 of 6 © RCL Benziger
I have three jackets and they’re all like brand new. You can take your pick. They are all popular brands. Everyone will think you bought it yourself. If Jesus gave it to you, would you say “no?” Tobi was silent. “I’d like the blue one with the star on the back,” he said, smiling. “Oh, no,” groaned Jake. “You chose my favorite.” But he smiled too. “And I’d like the green one!” chimed in Rodrigo. “I feel warmer already.”
“O.K., now,” Jake continued. “What we need to come up with are a few ideas for helping other people stay warm this winter without putting anyone on the spot. We are now officially accepting good ideas.”
After a few minutes of thinking, the conversation began again, and pretty soon the Highland Ridge Explorers had come up with three ideas. --------------TIME TO VOTE
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