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Kindness is Contagious: Kindness makes its own rules

FARGO — I am a rule follower. It makes me very nervous when someone uses a discount card that doesn’t belong to them or parks in an area that is designated for a specific business.

I do like to speed, but that’s another story.

My friend, Amanda, is also a rule follower. We both know that sometimes we need to bend a bit more than we do to put people before policy, but hey, Amanda and I would agree we are works in progress. She recently shared a lesson she learned from her son that she thought perhaps I could use, too.

“My 12-year-old son, Braeden, and I served lunch to the homeless a few weeks ago. I’ve done it before and it’s something I really enjoy. Braeden was nervous, but he can receive some volunteer hours for his confirmation class, so I had him invite a friend and we went and served lunch together.

"Part of serving the meal is sitting down and eating as a community. I had been telling the boys how good the food always is. It’s from a big company that delivers any leftover food they have from their events. Every Friday, they bring it to the church. We add things to the meal and it gets served.

"Braeden was serving the main entree, which was a chicken wrap. I felt awful because on this particular day, the food was terrible. It took all we had not to spit it out. We felt especially bad because we were surrounded by people for whom this could be their only meal of the day.

"There are strict rules everyone follows at the church. We serve lunch from noon until 12:30. At 12:30, you can get seconds, and at 12:50, you can come up with any leftover containers and fill those containers to take food with you.

"At 12:20, a gentleman walked up to Braeden with his to-go container and said, ‘Can I please just take one with me?’ Braeden looked at me and I looked at the woman next to me to figure out what to do. I really wanted to give him the food. I knew we were going to have plenty, but I was trying to be a rule follower.

"I said to the man, ‘I’m so sorry, but if you come back at 12:30, we’ll bend the rules a little and serve you then.’ The man said he couldn’t do that because he needed to leave immediately. The man walked away and I could see my son was so sad that he couldn’t give the gentleman the food.

"Braeden looked at me and in a clear, confident voice said, ‘Mom, turn your head. The poor guy needs to eat. I’m giving him one.’ Braeden grabbed the chicken wrap, found a container to put it in and chased after the man. It was so sweet.”

Thanks, Braeden, for teaching us that sometimes we have to follow the rules, and sometimes we have to follow our hearts.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.

Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.

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