Selfish Charity

She was so stinky.

I mean, I have had some students who didn’t smell pleasant before, but this girl was so rank everyone had to hold their breath around here.

And being pregnant, I often gagged when she came near me. Of course, I pretended I was coughing.  I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

This particular student?  Loved me.  She shared everything that happened to her with me.  And she was a close talker.  Had no understanding of personal bubble space.

But everyone else tried to teach her by giving her TONS of room.  She sat in the back of the room near no one.

When school starts around here it is typically in the 80’s or 90’s.  Most students are traipsing the halls in shorts and tank tops and walking the line of “appropriate for school.”  Not her.  Even in the hottest weather she wore jeans and a hoodie.

So there she would sit in the back of my room, in her winter gear while we all sweated, greasy long hair, and a smell that was so rank she had a green hue about her.

The students, although dying of the stink, were very good not to say anything directly to her.  Although they said things to me…a lot.

I constantly told them that I was sure it would get better when the temperatures dipped, but in the meantime I alerted the counseling staff (who did nothing but mention it to her).

The weather got cold.

She still wore the same hoodie and jeans.

No other clothes.

And she still carried around the smell.

I again said something to the counseling staff, which had gained a new member since my last complaint. The new counselor met with our friend and found out that she did not have a regular place to sleep or shower.

Her mom bought the bare minimum of food and didn’t have any left over for soap, so most showers (if there were any) where just water.

It was getting really cold.  Even though we were all passing out from her smell, I couldn’t help thinking about how that was the least of her worries.

I asked the counselor if I could donate a gift to her anonymously.  If she would give it to her.  She agreed.

So I took up a collection amongst staff (mostly her teachers) and I went shopping.  I bought soaps and shampoos and conditioners and lotions and razors and shaving creams and toothpaste and toothbrushes and tampons and pads and deodorant and perfume and nail polish and hair brushes and combs and hair accessories.  I went overboard, admittedly.

I then bought a big basket and lots of ribbon and brought it to the counseling office.

After Christmas break?  She didn’t have an odor, but she did have tons of self-confidence.  She had painted nails and cute ponytails in her hair.

Much later I found out she wept with joy at the gift that she intended to share with her mother.

It started as a way to calm my sensitive pregnant stomach, but it ended being the only Christmas gift a girl received.

About ksluiter

Just a small town girl...wait no, that is a Journey song. Although I do live in a small town. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher, and a writer. We have joys and we have struggles. Just like you.
This entry was posted in love not hate, nonfiction, Red Dress Club, things that make me go barf. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Selfish Charity

  1. isn’t it great when you can help out students like that? i always end up going over board on the ones that my heart hurts for.

  2. Jaclyn says:

    This is lovely. I’m so happy to have read this. Merry xmas 🙂

  3. I’m all teary! What a wonderful thing you did – something she will never, ever forget. What a gift!

  4. Jessica Anne says:

    I’m teary eyed too. What a wonderful gift, for both of you. Hope you have a wonderful holiday.

  5. I love, absolutely love that your wonderful act of specific charity was able to soothe you both!

  6. Carrie says:

    That was a wonderful gift you gave that girl. I hope you had the most merry Christmas 🙂

    Visiting from Red Writing Hood

  7. Yet another post to make me cry 🙂 (I mean that in a good way). For a short time there I thought that maybe it was because they lived outside, but I’m glad to know that wasn’t the case. It is still sad, but I’m so glad you were able to brighten that girl’s life up.

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Kim says:

    How terrible to know that there are people so unfortunate in our own backyards. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas – visiting from RDC

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