It was the night of a monumental occasion and people were piling into Mount Vernon Place to watch the 43rd annual lighting of the Washington Monument.
I was there with six fine young people from Baltimore. Although they had lived in the city all their lives, they had never attended a monument lighting until we started going together a few years ago. Since then, we have attended every one, and it has become one of our holiday traditions.
We were pressed between many people and standing on tiptoe to see the tap-dancing Santas from the Baltimore School for the Arts. Some of the shorter kids were pushed by sympathetic and much taller strangers to places where they could glimpse the performers.
The energy was high, and we were all laughing and miming playing instruments along with the Soulful Sympathy; I was the trombonist, who happened to have a solo. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder and a man behind us asked: "Are you going to make sure that these kids have good holidays this year?"
I told him I would do my best. Then he handed me $60. He didn't know me or the kids or our story (I had met them through a church program and mentored them as they grew up). What the man was offering was simply a random act of kindness.
I was stunned and could only mutter our thanks over and over again. Since then, however, I have told this story to almost everyone I know.
That stranger's money was not the only thing he gave that night. He reminded me, the young people I was with and all who hear our story that kindness exists and is spread through means not even imagined. For all the kind acts that have been bestowed on me by random Baltimoreans, I am both very grateful and proud to call this city my home.
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