Tracy Autler’s life changed in a very unexpected way on Thanksgiving Day, 1993. Tracy was a single mother, living in an apartment in a rough neighborhood. She was doing her best to raise a three-year old while also 8 months pregnant with her second child. Living off welfare and food stamps, her Thanksgiving dinner was primarily comprised of canned food.

Tracy heard a knock at the door. “Who could that be?” No friends, no family would be joining her and her three-year old. At the door was a man from a local restaurant holding a full Thanksgiving meal, given by an anonymous donor. Tracy was so surprised, and she spent the rest of the day crying.

Years went by and Tracy still hadn’t figured out who had provided this mysterious Thanksgiving meal. During those years she was able to move out of the apartment and began working as a nurse at a nearby hospital.

Seven years later, working at the hospital, an elderly woman named Margo appeared at the hospital. Margo had lived in the same apartment building as Tracy all those years back. Three days before the end of her life she took Tracy’s hands and whispered, “Happy Thanksgiving.” Margo, the unassuming neighbor with multiple sclerosis, was behind that generous gift.

That one gift had a massive impact on Tracy’s life. Tracy purposed to do generous things for other people too. The day she got off assistance she took a basket of gifts down to the welfare office for anyone to take. The welfare officer was stunned. Who does something like that? But that was just the beginning.

Since then, Tracy and her husband have become foster parents and adopted a son. She regularly looks for opportunities to give, such as volunteering at the Humane Society. Her latest idea is to leave five-dollar Starbucks gift cards with little notes for her coworkers to find, just to make their day better.

This year Tracy made a New Year’s resolution to find 100 opportunities to give to other people. Tracy doesn’t do her giving to be noticed by others. Since that Thanksgiving Day in 1993, she has discovered the joy that comes from giving.

-Rev Dr William Lewis