DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a man who lives in a mostly rural area. I tore my Achilles tendon and need help being driven to work and doing basic chores like collecting the mail and grocery shopping. Living next to me is a family with five children, and the two oldest children have been instrumental in keeping my life moving swiftly. They drive me, deliver my mail and get me groceries if I need (I give them my credit card to pay). I know their parents had a hand in prodding them to help me out, and I plan on giving them a thank-you letter along with some canned peaches from my earlier harvest. For the children, however, I would like to somehow pay them for how kind they've been to me. One is in high school, and the other attends a community college, and both have helped me. Would it be distasteful to pay them when I am healed? I wouldn't want them to think I thought of them as employees, but I know teens need some financial help. I would love to thank them in a way they'd appreciate. Do you think giving them each some cash would be an appropriate thank-you, or would it seem impolite? -- Grateful for Neighbors, Bumpass, Virginia
DEAR GRATEFUL FOR NEIGHBORS: Since your injury may take quite some time to heal, I suggest that you start your thank-yous early. Check in with the parents and tell them how grateful you are for their children's support. Express clearly that you would not be able to get through this without them. With the children, when they take you on errands, occasionally invite them to have a treat -- an ice cream cone or some other item that you can share while sitting and talking to them. In this way, you get to know them better, including their hopes and dreams. When you are fully healed and no longer need their help, write them thank-you notes and enclose a little cash. In your note to each, point out something that you learned about the young person and his or her aspirations for the future. Suggest that the monetary gift you have offered be used to help them toward their goals.