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      • Darren and the Circus
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Darren and the Circus (08/28/20)

When we started helping Darren out we knew he was a special kid. He wasn't like any of the other homeless we had met or helped.* In fact, he wasn't like many of the other people we knew.

Darren had a good heart that had survived a horrible childhood and 6 years of homelessness. He kept himself away from smoking, drugs, drinking, larceny, and thankfully had kept his mental and emotional capacity stable. How he kept himself on that level is still beyond me, but he did, and it still shows many years later.

One of the best examples of how the heart of this kid works, involved the circus.

Several months after we brought Darren into our house, the circus was in town. I knew he liked animals, so I got all of our group tickets. When I told him we were going to the circus, he was beyond excited. He knew what a circus was, that there would be animals and entertainment, but he had never actually been to a circus. In previous years when the circus was in town, he would walk around watching the animals, but never had the money to get in.

Over the few short months with us, Darren had saved up quite a bit of money, and was bringing every penny of what he had saved with him to the circus. I didn't understand why, but it was his money.

We had VIP tickets, so we got to watch the animals while they were being fed and groomed prior to the start of the show, and got to go backstage to see all the prep work. Darren was happier than happy. His inner child was definitely coming out.

Seveal minutes before showtime we walked into the entry, and Darren said he needed to get something, and quickly ran off to the nearest concession stand. After quite a few minutes, I asked one of the guys what Darren was doing, only to see Darren coming towards us with two large garbage bags filled to the brim with stuffed circus animals.

I cringed. I thought I had really gone wrong. I thought we had provided Darren with more than everything he could have ever needed, but apparently I missed something. My heart sank.

I asked out loud what I had done wrong, Darren didn't need any of those stuffed animals.

My friend Nick punched me in the arm and as I looked at him perplexed, I saw he was tearing up. OK, I asked "What's wrong with you? What's going on?"

Barely able to get it out, Nick said Darren had bought all those stuffed animals to give to all the little kids, not for himself.

I felt like a complete fool as we watched him walk around and hand stuffed animals to all the little kids until every last one was gone from the bags. Darren eventually walked over to us with a mile-wide smile saying that was the most fun he had ever had. He looked at us a bit shocked and asked what the tears were about. Really??

It was confirmed at that time that the homeless guy we had helped was not your normal guy. Somebody who had nothing had saved everything he could to spend it on something to make complete strangers happy. Oh what a wonderful world this could be if we had more people like this.

We all gave Darren big old bear hugs, told him we'd tell him why we were crying later, and went off to watch the circus. And the circus was great!

At one point during the show, the traditional fashion-victim clown was in the ring, walking around throwing confetti, and tripping over his shoes. He stopped in front of us and started pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket. It was made from a shimmering red fabric with black geometric and organic patterns overlaid with stunningly beautiful gold printed characters. The characters were not of a language I recognized, and the handkerchief seemed to never end.

Even the clown seemed a little surprised at the length of the material, pulling and pulling and pulling, making these strange faces as a pile of the beautiful material grew in front of us.

He stopped, shrugged, tugged a little more, at which point more material appeared, made a couple hysterical faces, picked up all the material, and ran at full speed out of the arena. Though he was getting a great reaction from the crowd, he appeared more running in fear than as a novelty. But the show went on.

After the circus had ended, and we were walking out of the arena, Darren was telling us about everything he had seen, like we weren't there or weren't watching. This lady came up with her three little kids, each of them hugging their stuffed animals. She was in tears as she thanked Darren and said she could have never afforded to get them anything, and how much that had meant to her and her kids. She proceeded to hug all of us in our group.

The circus was never the same after that!

*Disclaimer: I'm not in any way disparaging the homeless, but frequently those on the streets can be a little bit of a challenge, and a handful to provide assistance to.


#Darren #circus #kindness #stuffedanimals #fabric