When a young boy learned his teacher was sick and in dire need of money, he took the matter into his hands and decided to bake cookies to raise money for her treatment. Little did he know what awaited him for his heartwarming gesture.
12-year-old Derek came from wealth. His mom, Linda, owned a cosmetic line, a million-dollar business, but his dad, well, Henry was a regular office manager, which is why Derek’s mom soon divorced him.
Linda believed money meant power. Money could help you rule the world. Well, she wasn’t wrong. Following the divorce, it was her money that enabled her to win custody of Derek in court, while Henry had to make do with occasional visits to their only son.
Linda was always the one in power. “You know your pay makes little difference in Derek’s life, Henry, so you have no right to judge what’s best for him,” she taunted him one day. “How about staying out of my son’s way?”
“Your son?” Henry retorted. “Don’t forget, Linda, he’s also my son, and you know how much he resembles me. He is thoughtful, sympathetic, and generous. He’s not like you, and you’ll see it with your eyes one day!”
The world is ruled by kindness, not money.
Linda chuckled. “We’ll see that, darling! We’ll see that…” Linda was sure Derek would become someone like her—rich, confident, and self-sufficient—rather than some dumb, kind-hearted man like Henry. But sweetheart was mistaken.
Derek was very kind and hardworking, just like his father. An A-class student. Linda was proud of that. Every parent-teacher meeting, she would walk out of the class glowing with pride. What a wonderful child she had raised despite being busy with her business! But Linda’s pride would be hurt soon.
One day Derek’s favorite teacher, Mrs. Lester, did not show up at school. The substitute teacher wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t great either. Mrs. Lester had her own ways of making the subject fun and interesting, and she never missed school. Was she sick? “Maybe,” Derek thought.
But as the days and weeks passed, Derek became more concerned. No teacher in the school would tell the students what had happened to Mrs. Lester. “You don’t have to be concerned, students. She’s on extended leave and will hopefully return soon,” their substitute teacher told them one day.
Luckily, some of Derek’s friends eavesdropped on the teachers’ conversation a few days later and found out Mrs. Lester was in serious trouble. Cancer, they heard the teachers say. Mrs. Lester was undergoing chemotherapy but didn’t have enough money to pay for her treatment.
“She’s got two kids…a son and daughter, and her husband can’t cover her bills because he doesn’t have a good job. He’s a lawyer who survives on pro bono cases. They said it doesn’t help him make a lot of money,” a friend told him.
“That’s awful!” Derek thought. She was the best teacher they had and his favorite. Derek wanted to help her, but he couldn’t ask his mom for money as she would never help someone. She hated doing charity. And Henry was struggling after the divorce.
“What do I do?” Derek was lying in his bed at night, thinking about how he’d save his favorite teacher’s life. He hardly had any money on him. But soon after, an idea struck him…
The next day, as soon as Derek returned from school, he changed into his home clothes and began baking cookies. His grandmother had shown him how to do it. After all, Linda was always busy with her work.
“This should be enough for the day!” he grinned as he took out two huge trays of freshly baked cookies from the oven. He put them out to cool, then sealed them in a jar and sat in his front yard selling them.
‘Buy a cookie, save a life!’ read the placard he hung outside the house gate. Some kind neighbors stopped by, inquired why he was doing that, and bought cookies from him. But his idea wasn’t very profitable.
After weeks, he only had a few hundred dollars. “This would of very little help to Mrs. Lester,” he thought sadly. So Derek began baking more cookies and selling them door to door.
Meanwhile, his grades started declining, and Linda received a call from his class teacher, who was concerned that a bright student like Derek was on the verge of failing his tests.
Linda returned home early that day, fuming, and was shocked to see Derek selling cookies. “The hell is wrong with you, Derek? What are you even doing?” she asked, stunned.
“Umm…well, mom, I am just helping my teacher,” Derek said quietly. “She’s sick, and she needs money for treatment, and I thought I could help. Her family’s struggling.”
“You can’t be serious!” she snapped. “If you keep doing this, you’ll end up selling cookies for a living one day! Your class teacher called me, and well, she didn’t have nice things to say about your performance at school, Derek. Throw everything in the trash and get back to your room! You’re not getting dinner tonight if you don’t finish your homework!”
“Mom…” pleaded Derek. “How can you act so cold? Dad always asked me to help people in need!”
“And see where he is today, Derek. Money is what rules the world! You are doing this nonsense cookie business today because your teacher doesn’t have money. And well, you need to first think about yourself, then about others! This should be cleared in 10 minutes,” she added, pointing to the cookies, and went inside.
Derek gave up. He could never go against Linda. Even his dad couldn’t. How would he?
It was Sunday the following day, and Derek was sleeping in his room. Linda, thankfully, allowed him to wake up a little late on weekends. But that morning, Derek’s sleep was disturbed by sounds of people applauding and exclamations of “Hip, Hip, Hurray!”
“Ugh, please stop that. I want to sleep more!” he grumbled, covering his ears with a pillow. But the sounds continued.
At last, Derek was up and out of his room to see where the noise was coming from. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. Derek answered the door and saw a crowd gathered on his front porch.
“What’s all this? What’s happening?” The sight jolted him awake from his slumber.
Linda was taking a shower then. “Who’s at the door, Derek?” she shouted from the bathroom.
“Umm…just a sec, mom!”
A man approached him and gave him his business card. He introduced himself as a journalist and said he had seen how he was selling cookies to help out his sick teacher. “I interviewed some neighbors, and it was through them that I located your house. All of these people have come to thank you for your kindness.”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t deserve this…” said Derek sadly. “I couldn’t help my teacher. The plan kinda backfired. I only made a few dollars, and I could never give it to my teacher.”
“Oh no, you did help your teacher, and she’s getting treatment!” said the journalist. Then he disclosed that several people had come forward to donate money for Mrs. Lester by creating a GoFundMe page.
“What is this? Who are you?” Linda appeared behind Derek and was shocked to see a crowd on her doorstep early in the morning.
“I’m his mother,” she said.
“I’d like to interview your son, ma’am,” the journalist said. “Derek is an inspiration for many kids out there…” Then he told her how Derek’s modest step had helped Mrs. Lester.
Linda was in tears. For the first time, she realized good deeds mattered more than money.
“I’m sorry, son,” she said as she held him. “I am proud of what you did. I will do my best to help Mrs. Lester too!”
With the money from the donations and Linda’s help, Mrs. Lester could successfully continue her treatment. She was feeling much better after a few months, and soon, her cancer went into remission.
When she returned to school, she thanked Derek in front of the entire class for saving her life. “I shall always be eternally grateful to you, Derek,” she said. “You are a true angel!”
What can we learn from this story?
- The world is ruled by kindness, not money. Derek’s charity not only helped Mrs. Lester but also helped Linda change her heart and realize money isn’t everything.
- Even a small help can do wonders. Derek had never imagined that his small step of selling cookies for Mrs. Lester would raise a large sum of money and persuade his mother to assist Mrs. Lester. But it all happened.