None of us will ever know how, when, and where we benefited from the kindness of strangers. But we do know that none of us can get all of our needs met and the desires of our hearts realized without someone finding it in their own heart to lend a helping hand. Sometimes help comes from an unlikely source that we never could have imagined would be the hand that feeds us. Because of the big heart and generous spirit of nine-year-old Caden, of Anderson, many people have been able to feed themselves and maybe even their entire family.
Caden has always had a big heart and cared for everyone. He was able to find a way to share his heart with others by using the birthday money he received for his ninth birthday to buy food for the Blessing Box on W. Whitner Street.
It began with Caden going with his grandmother, Julia Woodson, to pick up peanuts from Texas Roadhouse. Woodson had been working on raising money to rebuild the Kidventure Park at the Anderson Civic Center, by selling Texas Roadhouse peanuts for $2 per bag.
“I put a picture of the peanuts on my Facebook page with a caption stating that I know the perfect place to put the peanuts. The perfect place was the Blessing Box. People would message me on Facebook to purchase the peanuts and they would request that I put the peanuts they bought in the Blessing Box,” says Woodson.
Over the last 4 months, Caden and Woodson have put $1,000 worth of peanuts in the Blessing Box. During the peanut drop offs, Caden would observe the contents of the box and he decided that he wanted to add more to the offerings. He felt as though the people who depend on the box for a source of food should have more to choose from.
Woodson says, “One day, a few weeks after his birthday, Caden looked at me and told me that he thinks they need more than what’s in the Blessing Box.”
The next time Caden went to the grocery store with his grandfather, he asked him if he could use $30 of his birthday money to buy some food for the people who use the Blessing Box. Of course, his request was met with a resounding “Yes,” and Caden began a mission to find non-perishable items that would fit in the box. He set to work grabbing Vienna sausages, peanut butter crackers, Slim Jims, granola bars, and Capri Suns from the grocery shelves. When he got home, he began making snack packs, using gallon Ziploc bags to put one of each item inside. Placing these snack packs in the Blessing Box as an act of giving, with no thoughts of receiving anything in return, was an act of sincere kindness and love in its purest form.
“Caden keeps asking to buy more food for the box. He has talked about having a Blessing Box of his own, but he’s not sure where to put it,” says Woodson.
While Caden has observed kindness modeled by his grandmother by way of the Kidventure fundraising project, Caden’s desire to do what he can to serve the needs of others is intrinsic.
“He just has a good heart,” Woodson says. “He notices people’s situations and wants to help them.”
Caden will never know whose growling stomachs he eased with his birthday money or how many children crying tears of hunger pains he was able to relieve with kindness. But the beauty of this story is that Caden is not looking for a return on investment. He just wants to help. Caden is a shining example that to make a difference in someone’s life, even a small one, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care.