While stopped at an intersection the other day I happened to notice a young woman on the sidewalk, attractive and smartly dressed. I spied her there, walking briskly, as if on a mission, toward the corner of the block.

Almost at once, from my vantage point she passed another young woman heading in the opposite direction who got my attention. The second woman appeared to have been victimized by polio. Her gait was twisted and awkward, her legs of differing lengths, her slender arms thrust down into the braces of metallic crutches as she painstakingly ambled along. Yet, upon her face was a determined and bright smile. In a moment, before I turned the corner I noticed something else. She had in one hand a small plastic bag. With the other hand and with a slow, deliberate effort she was bending over and reaching toward the sidewalk. There she picked up a piece of carelessly discarded wrapper and placed it in her bag.

Her objective was clear. She was cleaning up the litter in that public place. What had taken someone else only a thoughtless moment to deposit, was taking her a good deal more effort to retrieve.

Smiling, I reflected then on the two young ladies I had just observed. The first was pleasant to look upon. The second—more so. For in her example beamed a lovely character and an inspiration. The first may have brightened that corner by her presence. But the second brightened that corner because she left it better than it was. Yes, it was a  little thing, but it seems to me that the cumulative effect of a lot of us doing a little adds up to something pretty great.

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