“Good for Something” Bag

By Marli Walker

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    Think of your brethren … , and be … free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you (Jacob 2:17).

    Everything in the green velvet bag with the gold drawstring was good for something. That’s what Willie told his older brother, Roger, when he asked why Willie carried it with him everywhere.

    “But that stuff is just junk!” Roger protested. “It’s a stupid-looking bag, anyway!”

    Willie just shrugged and kept on looking for things to put into it. He decided to call it his “good for something” bag.

    Willie emptied his bag onto the kitchen table one morning and carefully examined the blue shoelace he’d found on the school playground. Only one plastic tip was missing.

    Then there was the lopsided tennis ball, a stick, and a brown lunch sack. He put each item back into the green velvet bag that he’d found on top of Mr. Ison’s garbage can. The bag was actually the first “good for something” thing he’d found. After Mr. Ison had given him permission to keep it, Willie had set out to find just the right things to put into it—you just never knew when something would be needed!

    Now he was searching for more things to put into his “good-for-something” green velvet bag with the gold drawstring. He was quite pleased when he found some wire tangled around a bush by the pond at the park. After untangling the wire, he took the stick from his bag and wrapped the wire around it. Then he put the stick back into his green velvet bag. It was later that afternoon, on the way to the store, that he found a use for the wire.

    “Willie?” his mother had called to him from the kitchen. “Will you please go to the store and get some light blue thread for me? I’m right in the middle of mending Daddy’s shirt, and I’ve run out.”

    “Sure, Mom.” Willie whistled as he skipped to the store, the green velvet bag in his hand.

    “Oh, Willie, can you help me for a minute?” Mrs. Jones called from her yard. “My clothesline broke, and my clean clothes are all over the grass!”

    Willie hurried over. “I have just the thing to fix your clothesline, Mrs. Jones!” He reached into his bag and pulled out the wire he’d found that morning.

    “This ought to hold it up.” Willie carefully unwound the wire from the stick and tied it to the broken clothesline, then to the post. “There!”

    “Willie, that’s wonderful! You’re such a clever boy!”

    “It’s my ‘good for something’ bag that did the trick,” Willie explained.

    “Well, thank you, Willie. And thanks to your ‘good for something’ bag.”

    After he put the stick back in the bag, Willie started on down the sidewalk.

    Two blocks later, Willie saw little Joey sitting on the curb in front of his house. As Willie got closer, he could see that Joey looked very unhappy. “What’s wrong?” Willie asked as he went up the walk.

    “I’m trying to tie my shoes. I’ve practiced and practiced, and I just can’t get it right. And then my shoelace broke. Now I can’t even tie it at all—see.” Joey showed Willie the broken shoelace. “It’s too short.”

    “Well, Joey,” Willie said as he put his bag down on the sidewalk, “I have just the thing for you in my ‘good for something’ bag.”

    Joey watched Willie search in the green velvet bag and pull out the blue shoelace with only one end missing. Joey’s eyes brightened as Willie put the blue lace on Joey’s shoe.

    “Watch, Joey. I’ll show you how to tie it.”

    Joey watched intently as Willie demonstrated how to tie the lace.

    “Now you try it,” Willie said.

    Joey carefully held the blue shoelace just as Willie had showed him, and tied it according to Willie’s instructions. When he finished, he had a perfect bow.

    “I did it! Wow! Thanks, Willie!”

    Willie patted his bag. “You never know when you’ll need one of my special things from the ‘good for something’ bag,” he said as he waved good-bye.

    Willie turned the corner and hurried on to the store. Just as he opened the door, Mrs. Johnson and her four-year-old twins, Mary and Kerry, came out.

    “Now, Kerry, please stop that!” Mrs. Johnson was saying. “And, Mary, you can hold your treat in a minute.” Mrs. Johnson was trying to balance two full bags of groceries and keep track of her squabbling children.

    “But I want to hold the treat!” Kerry wailed.

    “No! I want to!” Mary wailed back.

    “Hi, Mrs. Johnson,” Willie said brightly. “Need some help?”

    “Oh, yes, Willie, please,” Mrs. Johnson said desperately. Willie took a hand of each girl and followed Mrs. Johnson to her car. A relieved Mrs. Johnson set down the groceries.

    “I want to hold it now!” Mary yelled again.

    “It’s still my turn!” Kerry yelled back. A small sack containing cookies from the bakery was in danger of being torn apart by the quarreling girls. Suddenly Willie had an idea.

    “Wait a minute! Just hold the sack still,” he told them.

    The girls stopped their tug-of-war and watched Willie reach in his “good for something” bag.

    “What’s in there?” Kerry asked.

    “You’ll see.” Willie smiled at her. Pulling his hand out of the green velvet bag, he showed the girls the brown lunch sack. “This will make things easier.” He took the treat bag from Kerry, put one of the cookies from it into the brown lunch sack, then handed a sack to each girl. Both smiled happily.

    “Thank you, Willie,” Mrs. Johnson said gratefully. “That was a good idea!”

    “Well, you never know when something will come in handy from my ‘good for something’ bag.”

    Hurrying into the store, Willie quickly found the thread and paid for it. When he was almost home, he heard a familiar sound.

    “Here, Sam!” Willie called to his barking dog. “Here, boy!” Sam bounded across the lawn and jumped up on Willie, his tail wagging furiously.

    “Hold on, boy. I have a surprise for you.” Willie set his nearly empty green velvet bag down, reached in, and grasped the lopsided tennis ball and the stick.

    “Here, boy!” Willie said, showing Sam the ball. “Go get it!” Willie threw the ball across the lawn. Sam immediately bounded away and trotted back with it.

    “Good boy!” Willie patted his pet’s head. “Now try this!” He threw the stick across the lawn. Sam ran after it, picked it up, and ran with it back to Willie.

    “Good ol’ Sam!” Willie said, petting the dog before he went into the house. He found his mother and gave her the thread.

    “Thank you, Willie. I’m glad you could help me. Did you find any more treasures on the way to the store?”

    “Nope—but I got rid of a few!” He told his mother what he’d done with the wire, the blue shoelace with only one plastic tip missing, the brown lunch sack, the lopsided tennis ball, and the stick.

    “That really is a ‘good for something’ bag!” Willie’s mother exclaimed.

    “I’m going to look for more ‘good for something’ things to put in my ‘good for something’ bag,” Willie told her.

    “Well”—she handed Willie an empty thread spool, then winked at him—“will you drop this into the garbage on your way out?”

    “I have a better idea, Mom,” Willie said happily as he put the spool into his green velvet bag with the gold drawstring. “You just never know when it might be good for something!”

    Illustrated by Dick Brown