Saturday, August 23, 2008

For Charity

There are a few little girls who live in our apartment building and play together a lot. We often greet each other as we are coming and going, because the girls like to play out on the sidewalk or in the parking lot.

Chantelle lives below us. Her parents are from Germany and run the Old Hamburg restaurant here in town. She is maybe five years old, and a little shy, but loves it when we talk or listen to her. Stefanie, the older one (maybe 10?), also speaks German and her parents work at Old Hamburg as well. She is very chatty. Recently, two more have joined them – six- or seven-year-old sisters. They just moved in.

Last time Chantelle came up and rang the doorbell, she asked me if she could talk to me. I said, "Sure." (But I figured I shouldn't invite her in since her parents don't really know me and didn't know where she was, so we just stood in the doorway.) After telling me that her friend was away and there was no one to play with, she realized she didn't have much else to talk about, so she said, "Well, bye." – and left.

The time before that, the girls came up and said, "Can we do Ding-Dong Dash to you?"

"You mean, you want to ring my doorbell and then run away and hide?"


"Even though I know you're doing it?"

"Yeah. Just take as long as you normally do when you come to the door!" Many giggles as they scurried back down the stairs – I suppose so they could sneak up on me when I least expected it.

So I went back to what I was doing, and no more than ten seconds later, the doorbell rang. I smiled, and went to the door. "Who is it?" I called out to no one in particular. "Hmmm," I said loudly. "Must not be anyone here. That was strange."

They did this repeatedly, until finally I didn't answer the door.

The time before that, they came up and asked if we had any games they could play. Shane gave them Pictionary (ages 12 to adult). I wonder what they did with that...

This last time, though, was definitely the funniest encounter. Tonight the doorbell rang, and there they were. They looked up at me, holding a brown paper sack that said For Charity in red crayon. "Do you want to give some money to charity?" Stefanie asked.

Remembering how my sister and I once collected rocks from our neighbor's landscaping, piled them in our wagon, and tried to sell them door-to-door... I was a bit skeptical. "What kind of charity?"

"It's for Bethany Manor."

"Really?" Bethany Manor is the nursing home in town. I think they might be non-profit, but I've never heard they were sending kids out with brown paper sacks to collect money. "Well, um, I don't think we can do that right now. Sorry. I hope you get some money, anyway!"

"Okay!" Then they hurried away.

Ten minutes later, the doorbell rang again.

"Congratulations!" All four girls showed up this time. "We collected money for charity, and then drew a number, one through ten, and it was your number! You win the charity money!"

This was hysterical. "Wow!" I said. "I can't believe I won!"

Then Stefanie dropped 24 cents into my hand. One dime, one nickel, and nine pennies. "Yeah! And you're the one who needs it most! Because you're having a baby, so this is really for charity. You'll need it for her college, and high school, and everything."

"Yeah... Where did you get all this money?"

"We found it in the parking lot. Bye Kati!" And back down the stairs they went.

Chantelle went down last and whispered, "Kati, we think it's a girl. Bye!"

So Shane and I are now 24 cents richer. And I didn't even put any money in the pot, skeptic that I am! Next time I'll know better.