They offer lists verbally and in writing. Kids are all about telling you what they want for Christmas. Though we try repeatedly to teach children it’s better to give than receive, the reminder often falls on deaf, young ears. But not always.

Good news travels, and recently I heard about a girl who learned a valuable lesson, one that mirrored the plot of an upcoming January Book Buzz Pick, “A Bike Like Sergio’s,” by Maribeth Boelts.

The picture book is about a boy who longs for a speedy bike like his friend Sergio’s, but his family can’t afford it. Times are tough, and Ruben has to live with seeing Sergio whiz by on his fancy wheels. When Ruben finds a $100 bill, a new bike seems possible. Ruben knows the lady who lost the money, but he doesn’t return it immediately. Anxiety wracks his conscience as he weighs returning or keeping the cash.

She Knew What to Do

Kenadee Foss, a fourth grader at Our Lady of Lourdes, lived this story last month when she found $120 on the floor of one of her favorite stores at the mall in Columbia. The child always “seems to be in the right place at the right time,” said her mother Brandy, noting that her daughter has the “biggest heart.”

Turning the money in to the store cashier didn’t seem wise. “It is cash after all,” her dad Ken said. Splitting the money with her older sister Cailey didn’t seem right either, though it was tempting to the 15-year-old, human nature being something we can all understand.

The thought of someone losing the money, especially around this time of year made Brandy “feel ill.” On her own, Kenadee came up with an idea to pay it forward, her mom providing suggestions on how they could use the cash to provide for someone else. It’s always been the Foss family’s goal to try and live the Golden Rule. This windfall would offer them a golden opportunity.

Food Pantry Benefits

Each month at Our Lady of Lourdes the school focuses on a service project. The food pantry at St. Francis Borgia thus became the benefactor of Kenadee’s monetary find. Off to Schnucks Kenadee and Brandy went to load a cart with canned goods.

“She got a lot of bang for her buck,” Brandy said, the money going toward corn, green beans, canned fruit, tuna fish, chili beans and canned soup, over 50 cans. The family wanted to spend half the money at Schnucks and use the remainder to buy two toys for the needy.

Mission accomplished, as was a video Brandy shot, because she was so proud of her daughter, and wanted “people to see how it could be this Christmas season.”

Another Golden Opportunity

Leave it up to social media to pass the post along, and along, and along, to the tune of thousands of hits on Facebook. As luck would have it, or miraculously if you prefer, Ashley Marhanka saw Brandy’s post and contacted Brandy privately on Facebook to ask permission to share the video on Schnucks’ Facebook page, a heartwarming example of good work that the store wanted to reward in another way too — with a $250 gift card. It would be waiting for Kenadee at the Schnucks Store in Washington.

Pay It Forward Again

This reward for doing the right thing drove home another old adage Brandy and Ken try to teach their four daughters, “Give and it will come back to you a thousand-fold.” Once again the Foss family got to pay it forward — this time to a family in need at Our Lady of Lourdes. So goes a chain-of-events story as homespun as a string of popcorn encircling a Christmas tree, but one with more lasting results, teachable moments shine the brightest during the holidays.

And to you, dear readers, the happiest and most blessed of holidays with your family and friends — that’s what I wish most for all of you.