Santa made a guest appearance at the St. Paul Children’s Foundation dental clinic on Tuesday. He was there to present a check from Marvin United Methodist Church’s “Santa for Missions” program.
Is this generous self-sacrifice normal for children?
In 2011, Action Against Hunger conducted an experiment in Madrid, Spain, where they sat two children in a room in front of two covered plates of food. They are told to wait for a few minutes and enjoy a snack while they do.
But when the children uncover the plates, they discover that only one of them has a sandwich in front of them.
Out of 20 children who participated in the experiment, ALL of them shared their food. Some of the sandwiches were cut in half, but even those that weren’t the children tore in half themselves. Some children even went so far as to ask their new friend which half of the sandwich they preferred.
In another experiment from researchers at Harvard University, children as young as 3 shared their rewards with other toddlers who helped them collaborate on a task.
My coworkers happily supplied stories of their children’s acts of kindness as well. One collected money at Caldwell Elementary for the relief effort in Haiti. Another is always the first to take a knee during a soccer game and always goes and helps someone up or pats them on the back, whether the player is on his team or not.
Maybe this is one of the reasons Jesus was such a big fan of children.
It’s hard not to get bummed out about the world sometimes. War and poverty, not to mention just general meanness can make us wonder where the human race is headed. But the kindness of children always gives a little glimmer of hope.
May it always be.