Working in retail can be very hectic, and the responsibilities of leading a store can be demanding. Getting everything done each day is a challenge, but it’s so rewarding when you know the positive effect that you can make on both your internal and external guests. At Altar’d State, even though we function much like any other retail clothing store from day to day, the company’s Christian values and commitment to do good in the world make all of our efforts worthwhile through our Mission Monday program. Until we received our first shipment of Compassion Bags, I didn’t realize how much our efforts personally meant to me.

At the time the bags arrived, I was managing the Altar’d State Kenwood Towne Center store in Cincinnati. These lovely totes came with all the goodies inside that would make a woman battling cancer feel loved aand treasured. Inside the box was a pack of blank note cards to be filled with personal notes reflecting hope and concern. I decided that each employee should have a chance to touch some lives by filling out a card. I divided the cards and handed them out, keeping one to myself.

That week, I had planned a business trip to Chicago to open our newest store. I was in a rush, getting ready to travel, when I remembered that I had forgotten about my blank card that was at the store. I wasn’t sure if I had time to stop at the store, yet I had made the commitment to write a note. I hurried to the store, grabbed the card, and scribbled out a quick note. I wished I could give more time to the task, but I had a plane to catch.

Fast-forward to a few weeks later. A guest came into the store. She was a young woman who, as I found out later, had previously been a roommate of one of my employees. I started helping her to shop and asked if I could start her a fitting room. I asked the guest for her name and told her mine. She recognized my name, grabbed my hand, and said, “Wait, you’re Lauren?” I said, “Yes.” She proceeded to tell me the story of how she had just received a Compassion Bag at her first chemo infusion and that I was the one who had written the note on the card inside. She said, “The gift and your words meant so much to me!”

This statement shocked me. The note that I had simply scribbled out in a rush touched this woman that was battling cancer! I had reached her heart while she was facing something so difficult. Writing the note was a quick minute to me, but it had an effect on her that would last a very long time.

This situation made me think about Altar’d State’s efforts to reach out and help people through wonderful organizations like Compassion That Compels. Many times, the focus becomes on the money donated to nonprofits. This is absolutely important and allows the good work to be done. In this moment, however, I’m reflecting on the simple gift that I gave: the gift of a few minutes of my time. This may be the most precious gift that I have ever given. I also wonder: how was it that this woman came into the store, and I was the one who helped her? Coincidence? It seemed as if there was a force of good at work. Divine Intervention? I felt a power in that moment, and I will never forget this gift that was given to me.