Concordia girl donates birthday presents to family in need for Christmas
The gift of giving.
Love for others, even strangers.
Pay it forward.
During the holiday season, all of these truisms define the generosity of others, and the willingness of some to give what they have to those who have nothing.
Bridgett Blochlinger embodies that holiday spirit and compassionate human nature, and this year she put her belief into action.
Bridgett, age nine - she just had a birthday, so don't say she's eight! - had a wonderful idea. What if she gave her birthday presents to a family that wasn't able to afford presents for Christmas?
The idea was born one morning at the Concordia Elementary School. CES Counselor Rio Brown had come to speak to Bridgett's class, and reminded the students that words like kindness and caring held special meaning during the holiday season, and truly defined the spirit of Christmas.
"My birthday is really close to Christmas," Bridgett recalled, "and I knew I would get presents. But then I felt sad because I knew there might be kids out there who wouldn't get any presents for Christmas. And that's when I decided to give them the presents I got for my birthday."
Bridgett didn't tell any of her friends about her idea. She thought about it for awhile, and only when she had to see the school nurse for a small bump-and-bruise did she reveal her plan.
"I told our nurse, and she thought it was pretty cool!" Bridgett said, her face lighting up with an adorable smile.
Maria LeDuc and Brandon Blochlinger, Bridgett's mother and father, vividly remember the day their daughter told them of her idea.
"We were so surprised," Maria said. "It was just the most amazing thing for an eight year old to think of."
"I'm nine now," Bridgett quickly corrected her.
"Yes, you're nine now," Maria agreed, and her eyes misted with tears as she looked at her daughter. "She said it just broke her heart that some kids wouldn't get any presents. For her to come up with this idea and follow through with it... it's really special."
Bridgett's father Brandon was also moved by the gesture.
"Nowadays, you just don't really see this kind of thing," he said. "The world's just a different place now, so we're proud of what Bridgett's done. It's a life lesson for her, and I don't think she'll really appreciate what she's done until she sees the looks on the faces of the family that will receive the presents."
Once word began to spread of Bridgett's plan, her friends and extended family sent her birthday presents of all types, not just gifts for a little girl.
The family-in-need chosen for Bridgett will receive a total of 25 gifts and a $50 gift card.
"The elementary school has been amazing," Maria said. "The faculty and staff really helped us put this all together, and put us in touch with a family-in-need."
Perhaps Bridgett has started a trend. Giving away her birthday presents to those less fortunate is certainly an idea she plans on turning into a tradition.
"I'm going to give away all my birthday presents every year," she said. "I just hope maybe somebody else will do something, too. Something kind that will help other people."
In 1988, President-elect George H. W. Bush referred to America's historic commitment to helping others in need as "1000 points of light". The fact that the American people were always willing to offer hope to others less fortunate through their words and deeds "...is what keeps America moving forward, always forward, for an endless enduring dream... old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: sacrifice, commitment, compassion...."
This year Bridgett Blochlinger became one of those 1000 points of light.
Take heed of her kindness, her compassion, her caring. In these difficult times when the news is filled with poison politics and financial strife; when we hear so much about the willingness of some to inflict suffering on others in the name of gender, bigotry, religion, and ethnic hatred... take a close look at Bridgett Blochlinger.
A nine year old child has reminded us that human beings posses within themselves the ability to give those who are less fortunate the greatest gift of all: hope for a better tomorrow.
Pay it forward.