THE RIGHT THING TO DO...
There are a lot of people who do good things to benefit others, even if it means sacrificing all or a part of themselves in the process.
And the real tragedy is that all too often the world does not ever hear about them. Instead, the news cycle is filled with the horrible and the tragic, the rich and the famous, the lewd and the depraved...you know, the “important” things that take place each and every day.
I thought we needed a break from all that today and so I’ve found two stories that I think will distract us from all the negativity with which are being bombarded. Maybe they will help. Take a few moments if you will to read what I have to say. These stories will both support my message today, and make you feel good and warm inside in the process.
The first story may or may not be one you’ve already heard. It took place in New York City back in November of 2012...long before the mess and squalor the city has become because of grossly negligent governing.
I am choosing to tell it again for two reasons. First because I truly love it and believe it merits being re-told. And second, because this act of incredible compassion and overt selflessness was performed by a member of a segment of society that is being villainized and maligned in the societal pollution that is the 24/7 news cycle...
This story begins in Times Square on a particularly cold night in November. Lawrence DePrimo, an NYPD officer, was working yet another twelve hour shift...his 22nd day straight. Did I mention it was cold that night? Freezing cold...temperature just a few degrees above freezing. It is a very important fact..
And despite being dressed for the weather and having the ability to duck into a warm shop from time to time for a cup of coffee, Officer DePrimo still shivered against the cold wind that blew through the city streets.
He had been assigned to a counterterrorism post and his job was to surveil the thousands of people who pass through one of the most visited places in New York City. The alert level had been raised and so he upped his awareness of his surroundings.
Officer DePrimo, standing in Times Square and making his uniformed presence known to the masses, was on a collision course with his destiny and the destiny of an unsuspecting person in need.
Before the stores and shops closed for business, he came across a man quite a few years older than he. The man was obviously destitute and homeless.
Honestly, the man looked no different than the hundreds of other men and women whose lives had somehow fallen apart and found themselves tossed out onto the streets. But there was one thing that was different about this man. Officer DePrimo’s attention was immediately drawn to the way the man was walking. Then he noticed the man’s feet...he was barefooted. Did I tell you how cold it was that night? Just above freezing if you remember.
The policeman dropped to one knee at the man’s side and they talked briefly. What they said, only the two would know. The policeman could tell the homeless man was frightened. And after the short conversation, Officer DePrimo stood back up, gesturing for the homeless man not to leave...to stay where he was.
Turning, the policeman then disappeared from his post for a short while, returning with a box in his hands. Inside the box were new boots and a heavy, warm pair of socks. Then, the incredible happened...
With what can only be described as the heart of a servant, Officer DePrimo knelt down to help the man put them on. He laced up and tied the man’s boots and with an outstretched hand, helped him to his feet.
His was an incredible act of selflessness and kindness. And to be honest with you, it would have gone completely unnoticed and mostly forgotten had it not been for a tourist from Arizona who was quick enough, alert enough and thoughtful enough to capture the scene with a photograph...unbeknownst to either Officer DePrimo or the man he was serving.
The next day, the tourist posted her photograph on the New York Police Department’s Facebook page with a brief comment to how moved she was by the policeman’s tender act of compassion for another human being. And her simple act of giving credit where credit is due turned Officer DePrimo into an overnight Internet viral sensation.
To say the least, Officer DePrimo, who was only 25 years old at the time, was shocked at all the attention he began receiving...all of it positive! When interviewed by the press, this is how he explained his encounter with the homeless man...
“It was freezing outside," he began. "I saw this guy awkwardly walking on his heels down Seventh Avenue, trying to stay warm. I noticed he had no shoes...no socks. He was in his bare feet. And I could see the blisters on them.
I thought to myself, “My God! I have two pairs of socks on and I am freezing. How will this poor guy possibly make it through the night in this cold?”
So I started to talk with him. We didn’t waste any time discussing how he got there. That wasn’t important. The immediate problem was very obvious.”
As I said, the two men continued talking. That was how Officer DePrimo found out the man’s shoe size was 12. He shook the man’s hand and told him to stay right where he was. Then he disappeared around the corner. The homeless man did as he was told.
“I walked around the corner and went into a Skechers shoe store,” the policeman said. “It was about 9:30 p.m. and they were getting ready to close.”
“We were just kind of shocked,” the manager of the store on duty that night told the reporter. “Most of us are New Yorkers here. We see the homeless every day and every where. We usually try to ignore it and just kind of pass by that kind of thing. Especially in this neighborhood.”
The boots and socks came to $100. Mr. Cano, the manager of store, offered his employee discount to Officer DePrimo to bring down the price to a little more than $75. To this very day, Officer DePrimo keeps the receipt in his vest...
“It reminds me that no matter what my problems are,” he says, “sometimes another person has it worse.”
My second story is particularly heartwarming. It is about two young children, a brother and sister, and an act of the most amazing innocence and loyalty and sacrifice.
Elizabeth Quaranta was a lovely and happy seven year-old girl in every way but one...she was suffering from a rare life threatening disease. And as her doctors had explained to her parents, there was only chance of her beating the disease and that appeared to be a blood transfusion. The only real candidate as a type-compatible donor was her five year-old brother Joseph.
Here is the odd and remarkable part of this story. Joseph himself had suffered from the very same disease when he was younger and had somehow survived. He had developed the antibodies in his blood that his sister now needed to combat the same illness and survive it as well.
The doctors sat down with Joseph and his parents and explained the situation to them. They asked if he might be willing to give his blood to his sister, to save her life.
He hesitated to answer, but for only a moment. Then he took a deep breath and then spoke...
“Yes,” he said. “If it will save her life, I will do it."
The transfusion was scheduled and as Joseph lay in bed beside his sister, the IV was set up. He lay there watching his blood as it began to flow out of his body, through a transparent tube and into his sister’s arm. It was almost instantaneous that the rose color returned to Elizabeth’s cheeks. But something quite different was happening to Joseph.
His face grew pale and the smile he wore as he watched his sister improve began to fade. Trying his best to hold back his tears and to be as brave as he could, he looked up at the doctor and asked a single question with a most trembling voice...
"Will...will I start to die right away?" he stammered.
You see, being so very young but loving his sister so very much, Joseph had misunderstood what the doctor had asked of him. Joseph believed he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her and that in so doing, he himself would die.
Sometimes other people have it worse than we can even imagine. Thank God there are people like Lawrence Deprimo and Joseph Quaranta who willingly give or will sacrifice themselves for another.
These two true stories should be a great reminder to all of us. We often get so caught up in the craziness of this world that we lose sight of or forget these facts. Many of us intend to be selfless...we really do. We have the best intentions, but for one reason or another we pass up daily opportunities to serve other people.
We walk by them because it is inconvenient at the moment to stop and serve someone else’s needs.
We keep what we have to ourselves, thinking we’ve earned it, though another, not as fortunate as we, may desperately need it more.
Sad to say, this is human nature. It is rarely convenient to exercise selflessness.
Officer Deprimo saw a need and he took care of it.
Joseph Quaranta had something his sister needed and he was willing to sacrifice himself to save her.
They both decided to exercise great selflessness without looking for recognition for what they were doing.
I think, and I hope you might agree, today would be a great day to share our love, compassion and charity with someone in need...don't you think?