Sunday, December 03, 2017

Tell me your stories

It's the time of year when some people seem to feel a bit more charitable than at others. Below are just a couple of recent stories. I'm confident there are hundreds more stories that readers can share of their own experiences of being the recipient or doer of good acts with nothing expected in return.

In October, in Iowa, Lisa Brownlee was surprised when neighbors showed up to harvest her family's crop of corn and soybeans. According to Donnelle Eller, a reporter for The Des Moines Register, Brownlee's husband had died of a heart attack earlier in the year, leaving his "last crop" of "about 235 acres of corn and 165 acres of soybeans" to be harvested.

Word of the effort apparently spread and more help than expected came calling, many working to harvest Brownlee's crops before they finished harvesting their own.

"It's something Van Brownlee would have done for his neighbors, says Steve Downs, Brownlee's friend since junior high."

Neighbors stepped in to help a neighbor when she and her family needed it most.

The harvest is just one example of how some step up to do the right thing when the need arises.

Another happened in early in November, Kate McClure, of Bordentown, N.J., started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to thank a homeless man named Johnny who offered her his last $20 so she could buy enough gas to make it safely home. McClure knew that Johnny regularly sat on the side of the road with a sign every day, so she returned to repay him the $20 and also dropped off some gloves, warms socks, a jacket and some sums of cash when she sees him.

But McClure wanted to do more, so she took to GoFundMe to try to raise $10,000 from strangers to help get Johnny enough cash to secure an apartment with first and last months' rent and four to five months' worth of living expenses. By Thanksgiving, McClure has surpassed her goal and the GoFundMe site has yielded $323,900, in donations.

There are many stories of people doing good year round. Even when their own fields need harvesting, they do the right thing by helping a neighbor in need. Even when the homeless guy who lends his last twenty bucks to a young woman he might never see again, he gives her the money with nothing expected in return because he believes it's the right thing to do.

Now, it's time to tell me your story. What story from your life captures a moment when you stepped up to do the right thing for someone else, regardless of whether or not you received recognition for it? Or, when have you been the recipient of such an act?

Send me your stories. Provide as much detail as possible, but keep your submission to no more than 300 words. Include your name, location, email address, and telephone number, and submit your story by Dec. 25, 2017, to: I'll run some of these stories in an upcoming column. 

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Simple Art of Business Etiquette: How to Rise to the Top by Playing Nice, is a senior lecturer in public policy and director of the communications program at Harvard's Kennedy School. He is also the administrator of, a blog focused on ethical issues. 

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to 

Follow him on Twitter: @jseglin 


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