The gift of giving

Haley Bunnell, Staff Writer

     She hands the vet receptionist $30. Thirty dollars to pay for medicine for her sick cat. But that money was not something she could spend lightly. It was the last bit of money she and her husband had because they were laid off due to the poor economy. They tried desperately to get a job, but had no success. The vet receptionist, senior Anna Strakele, placed the money in the cash register with a tear in her eye and was completely touched as the client walked away.

     “A feeling came over me, like God whispered in my ear that she needs help,” Anna said. “It absolutely broke my heart. I could tell she loved her cat and her situation was just pretty desperate. Actually seeing it firsthand stirred something inside of me and made me want to help.”

     Working as many hours as she could that pay period, Anna put all of that money together, raising $200. When the lady came back, Anna’s friend gave her the money along with an anonymous note explaining that she could spend the money on anything she wanted from medicine for her cat, to food or even something special for her husband on Christmas.

     “My friend said that after she read the note and saw the money, she was so happy and teary-eyed,” Anna said. “It made me feel really proud, and I was very touched by her reaction.”

     Not only did Anna give $200 to a client at work during the holiday season, but she donated even more money to an annual charity drive called Adopt a Family, which is run by ROTC.

     “I raised $360 just by myself, and that was the most any one person donated in the battalion,” Anna said. “With all of that plus everyone else’s donations, we bought tons of stuff. We bought several outfits for a total of 10 kids and four adults. We got blankets, toys, gift cards and even some cool stuff like iPods and mp3 players. I didn’t get to go to the delivery, but just buying things felt so good. I know I was helping wonderful people who just have some bad luck.”

     Anna was charitable person from a young age. Starting at the age of three, Anna and her family participated in a Christmas charity through their church called Christmas Angel. She helped her mom buy toys for a special girl or boy, and donated some of her own toys.

     “My parents taught me it was good to be charitable, that it is good to donate,” Anna said. “But I think there were a lot of times when I was little and I started donating my own toys instead of going out and buying others that my parents teared up and thought it was so sweet. And as I matured I learned how much of an impact that could have made and obviously I didn’t understand that then, but I knew it was a nice thing to do.”

     Donating to others in need is something Anna has never regretted, and wants to keep doing in the future.

     “I find that it makes me feel better to be charitable than to buy myself fancy stuff,” Anna said. “Because when I spend $40 on a pair of jeans, someone else could have used that money to help someone with a medical problem or to help someone else with a meal. It makes me feel better about myself and the world when I donate. I am definitely going to keep donating to charities and Goodwill.”

     Anna believes it is important to help our own people, especially in the tough economy. There are millions of organizations and charities that need people’s help.

     “You can’t just assume everyone else is going to do it,” Anna said. “And if you think about yourself being in their position, you would want people to help you out, too. It’s not like one person can end world hunger. If everyone in the world donated one dollar it would make a huge difference.”