DEAR ABBY: My mother died when I was 27. It was a very difficult time in my life -- everything seemed to fall apart. I lost my job, and then my utilities were turned off. I had to take cold showers for six months.
A neighbor who knew about my situation came to my house and made me an offer. If I would take care of her children, she would make sure I had food to eat. I was surprised that someone would trust me -- a young man -- with her children.
I took her up on the offer, and before long I began taking care of other people's children, too.
I have since moved 300 miles from Boise, Idaho. For more than 23 years I have made every effort to reach out to all the kind-hearted people who helped me when I was down and out. I hope they will read this:
My mother taught me that it is better to give than to receive. Without your great assistance, I don't know what I would have done. I am very involved in my community and volunteer at the local food bank, and I help out whenever I can. I would like to thank all of you for allowing me to care for your children and for letting me be a part of your families. God bless you. You not only saved me, but also taught me by your example. -- DAVE H., GRANGEVILLE, IDAHO
DEAR DAVE H.: I can't think of a letter that would be more suitable to print on this day of Thanksgiving than the one you have written. It spotlights how important it is to be sensitive to the needs of others, and how life-changing a single gesture of kindness can be.