Jeff Kottkamp: The spirit of giving will warm your heart

About a month ago, I was traveling with my family when we stopped in Gainesville for gas. After I brought our truck to a stop I noticed a homeless man leaning on a bicycle only 10 feet away. It was obvious that everything the man owned was strapped to his bicycle.

When I parked, he didn’t look at us. He didn’t look at anyone. He just kept his head down as if he was praying.

Our son, Jackson, saw the man. He asked my wife if she had any cash he could give to the man. Cyndie went through her purse, found what cash she had and handed it to Jackson.

Our brave and thoughtful 8-year-old son then stepped out of the truck and approached the man. He was a large man, with brown and weathered skin. The man looked surprised as he looked up to see all 4 feet, 3 inches of Jackson standing in front of him.

Jackson held out the money and said “This is for you.” The man slowly took the money as his eyes filled with tears. His blank look suddenly warmed with a smile of gratitude. He accepted the money and said “Thank you.”

Jackson then turned around and walked back to our truck. When he got back in the truck Jackson said, “That always feels so good — it makes my heart feel warm.” I was bursting with pride.

A few days later, I shared this story on Facebook. The reaction to this story was amazing. Hundreds of people commented on the story. They were moved, inspired and even brought to tears. Those reactions didn’t surprise me; they affected me the same way.

But what did surprise me was the reaction by a few people who put a political spin on the story. One person said, “It sounds like you are raising a liberal.”

Another suggested that I must be disappointed because what Jackson did was contrary to what a Republican would do.

The idea of helping a complete stranger in need is not a liberal or conservative concept, nor is it an idea that belongs to either political party. It is an idea rooted in basic human decency. What Jackson did was inspirational because he did it out of the goodness of his heart.

In this season of giving it is a great time to follow Jackson’s example and help those in our community in need. A little help goes a long way in lifting someone’s spirit. And if you do help someone, as Jackson said, it will make your heart feel warm.

Jeff Kottkamp was Florida’s 17th Lieutenant Governor and a former member of the Florida House of Representatives. He now serves as CEO of VR Laboratories in Bonita Springs, Florida.  VR Labs is an innovative natural products company formed by industry professionals to be the leading global formulator and producer of botanical pharmaceuticals, medicinal foods and botanical based food products.