Everything is right with the world.
Today's column is brought to you by you, our soft-hearted readers. When I wrote a column about a Mexican woman a couple of weeks ago and the dire financial situation she faced after the deportation of her husband earlier this year, you responded.
One day I opened a letter and out fell a collection of CTR rings and homemade bracelets, accompanied by a card and a note: "Doug Robinson, you wrot (sic) about a father deported to Mexico. May these braclets (sic) help in a small way. Merry Christmas." I opened another envelope and found a $20 bill with a Post-it note attached to it: "Maria."
I admit that when I wrote the column I expected there might be some offers of help.
But not like this.
Here are some of the emails and letters I received, and if you can read them without getting a lump in your throat, you might be the Grinch's spawn:
I read your touching article in the DN a few days ago and meant to contact you and see if you could use some blankets that my grandchildren have tied. We would also be glad to scare up additional items if you could let us know more needs. Let me know.
Reading your article about Maria, the woman whose husband was deported, we were wondering if there was a way to donate some money to her. Please let me know.
Recently, you shared with us the story of Maria, the woman doing her best to make ends meet and keep a family together after the deportation of her husband. I understand that hiding her true identity is necessary in this situation; however, I'm wondering if there is a way to get a Christmas donation to her without compromising confidentiality?
(Your column) kept me thinking all night about this woman and her five children, and I want to help her out for the holidays. Would she like money or gifts or food or all of the above? I live in Sandy and have three girls and a husband and a home and too much! … Let me know what I can do to love and help this sweet family.
My mom read your article about the family whose father has been deported to Mexico and is wondering what the ages are of their children and how we could donate some articles to them.
I was touched by the troubles of Maria and wondered how we could help her and her children with the Christmas holiday. Please let me know if this is possible.
My heart hurts for Maria. I don't have much money now, but I want to do something to make her life less of a struggle. I can help pay some of her bills. I have some blankets I can give her and some pillows. If I know the ages of the children, I can gather some clothing for them, warm coats, leggings, and pants. Oh, I wish I had a rug for her living room.
Members of the board of xxxxxxxx read your column today on the Mexican woman, Maria … We are a small foundation but would like to be of assistance to her in some way. Would you be able to put us in touch with her?
I read your article in the paper today. My family and I would love to donate some food and gifts to the family mentioned. Is there any way to get it to them without jeopardizing their privacy?
We were touched by your column about Maria. We would like to give some help, though small perhaps, and could send some money occasionally. Is there a source to receive funds?
I referred most of these people to Ryan and Shelly Daw, who, along with other couples, serve as inner-city missionaries in Salt Lake City for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and oversee the needs of Maria's family, among many others. To their astonishment, they witnessed the arrival of money, blankets, toys and food for Maria and her family. One family brought food and small gifts to Maria's house, along with a $75 gift card so Maria could get something for herself.
"She's overwhelmed," says Ryan Daw. "She wonders why this is happening to her."
When Daw presented Maria with a check for $2,000 from the anonymous foundation mentioned above, "she sobbed and sobbed and sobbed," says Daw. "She could not stop. She couldn't talk, we couldn't talk. Finally, she asked, 'Are there other families I can help with this, as well?' "
There are many families in the area who have similar needs. According to Daw, the inner-city missionaries have received $9,400 in cash and gift cards for some 40 families, plus goods and services. "The local bishop says he has never seen anything like it," says Daw. "Something is happening in the inner-city project. For some reason people are really opening their hearts and wallets even though these are tough times."
As for Maria, Daw is going to set aside some of her money to help finance her bid for citizenship and to get her car fixed and repair holes in her dining room floor.
"It's been wonderful," he says. "Everything is right with the world."