A Piece of Candy for a Smile

Leader 2 Leader Blog, Industry,

I was sitting in a restaurant in Lakeview, Oregon with some friends when an elderly man with a slight limp walked in. He had a Pringles can with him in his hand and was walking around from table to table. I looked a little perplexed, and my friends noticed and said, oh that’s Delbert!

Delbert? I asked. I made a joke saying we didn’t have that name in Staten Island

They said yes, his name is Delbert and he goes around giving people candy. Candy? I inquired. Yes, they again responded, candy in exchange for a smile. He likes to give people candy to make them smile

Really? I asked. They continued on stating that he’s been doing it for 50 years. A retired mail service worker, Delbert gives candy to those around him just to make them smile. He eventually reached our table and I got to meet him. We shook hands, and of course, he gave me a piece of candy, which prompted a smile from me. I began a conversation with him about why he does this, and sure enough, he verified that he just wants to make people happy and give them a smile.

He said, a little conversation, a warm hello, and a piece of candy guarantees a smile.

Wow, I thought what a great thing to do. I loved the concept!

I was with my good friend, Michael Carter, Superintendent of Lakeview Schools. He shared with Delbert that I was there to speak to the staff of the schools. Delbert’s face lit up and he asked me when I was speaking. I responded, “tomorrow.”  He said, do you have a minute? I confusedly said sure, and he said I’ll be right back. He ran out of the restaurant. Within a few minutes, he was back with two massive bags of candy. He could barely hold them in one hand. He said I want you to give these to the teachers tomorrow. They deserve a smile for the great work they do.

Wow! My mouth was hanging open. I was thoroughly impressed.

The next morning I was prepping for my talk to the Lakeview School District and in walked Delbert. I had the candy on the table and was ready to go. He had a warm smile and said he just wanted to make sure I was ok and had enough candy. He actually came to the event to check in on me!

Incredible! During my talk, I told some stories about the power of impact and how our simple actions can have a deep impact on people. I held up the Pringles can and received warm smiles from around the room. They were a little confused on why I had Delbert's can, and I told the story of how I met him the previous evening. I whipped out the two big bags of candy which prompted a huge round of applause, laughs and smiles. They too, were thoroughly impressed, but not surprised by Delbert's kindness.

I couldn’t wait to write about this experience and share it in the blog. What a warm and kind person Delbert was.

The gifts keep on coming though, as I was home the other evening with my family when the mail came. In the mail was a thank you card from teachers, along with an article in the paper sharing about what had happened with Delbert. A few of the staff members at Lakeview Schools thought it would be kind to share a warm note back to Delbert which they did. He shared the whole experience in the newspaper.

It’s rare these days the positive news gets in the newspaper, but here Delbert's impact and giving continues.

A lot of lessons, and a lot of opportunities in this blog. The simple gestures of kindness and giving from Delbert go a long way. I’m truly inspired and humbled by the kindness he models. May we all learn a little bit and give that candy to others!  Thanks Delbert!  Thank you Lakeview Schools.  Thank you Superintendent Carter!

Keep surviving and thriving friends!