By Stephen Cao

Gratitude. That was the feeling the old, feeble man felt when the little girl handed him a five dollar bill. He stared right into the girl’s eyes, and wholeheartedly said, “Thank you,” as pleasantly as someone who spent almost their entire life on the streets. The girl ran away, giggling from her shyness. He was thankful for what he got; he could go get himself a sandwich and a warm cup of coffee. The October air was starting to get cold, and the piercing wind cut through his rags, like a bullet shooting through a piece of paper. Living more than 30 years in the streets, he knew exactly where he could buy food from. With exhaustion, he trudged over to the nearest 7/11 beside the gas station. After he picked up a tuna-fish sandwich and a cup of coffee, he still had some spare change, so he decided to buy a lottery ticket to test his luck. He had never thought that this would change his life.

A week later, he went to another convenience store and on his way out, scanned the lottery ticket. On the screen it read: “36.5 Million Dollar Winner.” He didn’t even believe it at first. He gawked at the screen until it turned black again. With excitement building up in his chest, he scanned again, hoping that he was not dreaming. “36.5 Million Dollar Winner.” At first, he laughed at all of this, laughed at how two dollars changed his whole life and how lucky he was. After a while he started to cry. People in the store stared in curiosity, but he didn’t notice them. He couldn’t control his emotion, he felt that there was purpose in living again. He knew what he needed to do.
Now, after 4 years, he has a car, a house and the job he wanted. Starting a homeless shelter. With the 36 million dollars, he could fulfill the dream he had for his whole life- to help people in need. He provides essential necessities to homeless people just like him, and he gives them a chance to start over. Never will he forget what brought him here. The girl. After all those years, a five dollar bill changed his whole life, and everyone around him. Gratitude. It must have been something like this that people meant. Giving other people hope, a chance to start over.