Melissa is enjoying her second week of school. She is learning new and exciting things and making new friends. There are many new faces, like Jenna. Melissa doesn’t remember her at all. Joey said she was new and just moved there.
Jenna is quiet and sits alone. She does not talk and never raises her hand when the teacher asks a question. Melissa also notices that Jenna does not have new clothes like the other kids. Even her shoes are old. One has a hole in it, and Melissa could see her pinky toe sticking out showing a blue sock.
Melissa asked her mom, “Momma, there is a new girl in our class. I have not seen her before. Joey says she is new.”
“Do you mean Jenna?” Melissa mom asks. “I met her mom at Meet the Teacher Night.”
“Yes, that’s her. I don’t think she likes anyone. She doesn’t talk and never raises her hand.”
“She is new, sweetie,” Melissa mom explained, “Sometimes new people are scared. Maybe you should talk to her?”
“But what if she is mean or doesn’t like me?” Melissa asks.
“I don’t think she is mean. She is in a new school with new faces. She just needs a friend.”
“I can try, Momma,” Melissa says and goes to sleep.
The next day Melissa sees Jenna sitting under a tree while the other kids are playing tag. She walks over to her and invites her to play with them.
“No, I can’t run very well,” says Jenna sadly.
“Why not?” Melissa asks.
Jenna points to her shoe, there is a hole, and the sole is coming off. “My mom can’t afford to buy me a new pair, and these hurt when I run.”
“Oh, okay,” says Melissa. “Can I sit with you then?”
Jenna smiles, “Sure, but I don’t want to keep you from playing.”
“It’s okay. I’m a fast runner, and I always win, so let them have their chance.” That made Jenna laugh.
“At my old school, I was pretty fast too,” said Jenna.
Joey came up to them, “Melissa, why are you talking to her? She’s poor. You don’t want to be around her, come back and play with us.”
Melissa did not know what to do. What was poor? She looked over at Jenna; she had tears in her eyes. She got up and ran away, her shoe nearly falling apart.
“That was mean,” said Melissa. “She is new, Joey. She just wants a friend.”
“Well, you can’t be her friend. She is poor,” Joey said with a shrug.
“What do you mean, poor?
“I don’t know, that is what I heard someone say. But I guess it means she doesn’t have nice things; did you see her shoes?” Joey said, laughing as someone came behind him and tagging him ‘it,’ then he ran off.
When she got home, Melissa asked her mom, “Momma, what does poor mean?”
“Poor means that you don’t have enough money,” explained mom. “Why do you ask?”
“Joey says that Jenna is poor and that I should not be her friend.”
“Well, that is mean.”
“That is what I told him. Jenna’s clothes are not new, and she has old shoes. One has a hole in it, and I could see she was wearing bright pink socks today.”
“Well, just because someone does not have nice things, does not mean you cannot be their friend,” said mom.
“I know momma. I just wish there was something I could do for her,” said Melissa.
“Well, pray about it. Ask God what you should do.”
That night Melissa prayed, “Dear God, I want to be Jenna’s friend. Please show me a way I can help her. Thank you, God. Amen.”
The next morning Melissa got up and tripped over her old pair of shoes. It gave her an idea. She put them into her backpack.
That day at recess, Jenna was sitting under a tree, watching the others playing tag. She was still wearing her old shoes; today, she had green socks. Melissa pulled the older pair of shoes out of her backpack and ran over to Jenna.
“Can I sit with you?” Melissa asked.
“If you want to. What about Joey?” Jenna asked.
“Oh, don’t listen to him. He doesn’t know anything.” Melissa said with a laugh.
Jenna watched Melissa. She sat down and took off the shoes she was wearing, the new pair, and put on the older pair of shoes. They still fit and were in pretty good condition. Then Melissa handed Jenna the new pair. “Here, I want you to have these.”
“You don’t have to be nice to me because I am poor,” said Jenna.
“I’m not,” said Melissa. “I’m doing it because I want to play tag with you. I want to see how fast you really are.”
Jenna smiled. She put the shoes on, leaving her old ones at the bottom of the tree.
“Thank you,” Jenna said with a smile and then a giggle. “Now, guess what?”
“What?” asked Melissa a little confused.
Jenna swung her arm quickly and tagged Melissa saying, “Tag! You’re it!!” Then she took off as fast as she could.
Melissa tried to catch up with her, but it was hard. Jenna was right; she was fast. Maybe a little faster than she was.