Awakening a Spark
In the mid 1800s, Colonel James Anderson decided to open up his library of over 300 books to the young working boys of Allegheny, a small town in Pennsylvania. These were teenage boys who worked 8-12 hour days to support their families, boys who otherwise would not have been able to afford the books in Colonel Anderson’s library.
The impact of Colonel Anderson’s simple kindness was life changing. In the words of one of those boys:
“My dear friend, Tom Miller, one of the inner circle, lived near Colonel Anderson and introduced me to him, and in this way the windows were opened in the walls of my dungeon through which the light of knowledge streamed in. Every day’s toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty. And the future was made bright by the thought that when Saturday came a new volume could be obtained…. Nothing contributed so much to keep my companions and myself clear of low fellowship and bad habits as the beneficence of the good Colonel.
This boy would grow up to be Andrew Carnegie, the steel tycoon who would pay forward the good Colonel’s kindness tenfold by giving away some $350 million dollars to education institutions, the building of theaters, child welfare centers and over 2,500 libraries.
Regardless of one’s circumstance, we all have more to give than we know. Countless are the opportunities offered daily to serve. A simple act of kindness rooted in love for another can have an unbelievable impact.