“Suitcase Full of Love,” Friend, July 1995, 32
One night five-year-old Jenna sat on the living room floor, combing her doll’s hair. Her dad sat in his chair, reading the newspaper. When Jenna looked up, she saw a picture in the newspaper of a girl about her own age. The girl had curly black hair, her face was smudged with dirt, and her clothes were torn. The girl looked very sad.
“Why does that girl in the newspaper look so sad, Daddy?” Jenna asked as she pointed at the picture.
“Well,” said Dad, “let’s read the story about her. She lives far away in a country where the people are fighting a war. Because of the fighting, she and her family had to leave their home and are looking for a new place to live. Many of the people there don’t have shoes or clean clothes or even enough food to eat.”
“That would make me sad, too,” said Jenna. She sat staring at the picture for a long time. Then she quietly went to her closet and pulled out her suitcase, opened it, and started to put things inside: a pair of shoes, a can of soup, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a storybook, and a pretty blue dress. Jenna carefully looked over her many dolls and chose one she thought that the girl in the picture might like. Then she wrapped the doll in a pink baby blanket and tucked it inside too.
After she closed and latched the suitcase, she pushed and pulled it until she reached her dad. As she stopped in front of him, he peeked over the edge of the newspaper. “Are you going someplace, Jenna?”
“No, Daddy,” she replied. “We need to send these things to the girl in the newspaper. I put in some food and shoes, a book, and even one of my dolls. Let’s send it tonight so the girl won’t be sad for even one more day!”
Dad put down the paper, picked Jenna up, and gave her a great big hug. Then he said, “Oh, Jenna, I’m proud of you for being so willing to help. But I don’t know where to send your suitcase of wonderful gifts. I don’t know this girl’s name, and she doesn’t have a home, so I don’t know how to find her.”
Now it was Jenna who was sad. She sat very still, thinking about what her dad had said.
Then Dad had an idea. “We could take your gifts to the homeless shelter. I’m sure some little girl right here in our town would appreciate them too. What do you think?”
Jenna thought about what her dad had told her. “OK, Daddy. But I still wish I could help the girl in the newspaper.”
Later that night, when Jenna was ready to go to bed, she picked up her doll and said, “I know something I can do for that sad girl tonight. I can pray for her.”
She knelt by her bed and prayed, “Father in Heaven, please bless the girl who is far away that she will have food and a new home and a new doll. But most of all, help her to know that she has a new friend far away and that I love her. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
Jenna climbed into bed and snuggled under her quilt. Being able to help someone made her feel warm inside, and praying for that someone made her feel happy.