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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Orange (the color) (11/19/09)

TITLE: Orange Gratitude
By Eileen Knowles


Don’t ever wear orange. Last week as I stood in the little boy clothing section of Wal-Mart, I was reminded of the time my mom and I visited color experts for my 16th birthday to have our color tones analyzed. I was advised by the color analysis professionals that I should never ever wear orange due to the complexion of my skin. I think the experts who informed me of this would be very pleased. I have managed to avoid orange things for the past 21 years. I have a close friend who looks amazing in orange, and wears the color all the time, orange sweaters and orange t-shirts. She even wears orange accessories like earrings and purses. For her birthday last year, I found a really pretty orange bracelet for her. I am really happy God blessed me with a friend who can wear orange, because I can’t. They told me so.

I have always had fun buying orange things for other people. People who I hope are able to wear orange guiltlessly without fear of the C.A.P’s (Color Analysis Police) showing up and giving them a ticket for breaking a color commandment. So, let me get back to why I was standing in the little boy clothing section of Wal-Mart last week and thinking about orange. Every year, for the past few years, I have participated in Operation Christmas Child and filled one or two shoeboxes full of things for little kids that might not receive anything for Christmas. As I was filling the “boy” box, an orange T-shirt caught my eye.

When I arrived at the store, I pulled from my pocket the list of items Samaritan’s Purse suggested we put in our boxes. As I reviewed the list, a flashlight, small toys, a shirt…, I was struck this year by how I seemed to understand, on a deeper level, the reasons behind many of the items suggested. I had returned to America from my first mission’s trip just two days earlier, a trip which had taken me over 1200 miles away from home to a very poor section in the Dominican Republic (DR).

When the church group I was with landed in Santo Domingo, we hopped on the bus waiting for us and started the four hour drive to the western portion of the DR. As we left the city and the sun began to set, it became dark, really dark. In fact, in the town which would be our home away from home for the next seven days, the power is actually turned off every night at 11:00pm and not turned on again until morning. Occasionally, for no apparent reason, the power would go out in the middle of the day as well. In other sections, where we distributed rice and beans, power was non-existent. I now understood why some people around the world might appreciate a flashlight for Christmas.

I had the opportunities to observe and to interact with many of the children in the DR. I watched one child play with a homemade pull toy. The toy was made from a plastic oil container with four plastic bottle caps as wheels. He pulled the little toy up and down his little dirt road outside his home. I saw a little boy rolling an old tire down the street like a ball. I saw yet other children who had found old Styrofoam pieces and simply carried them around their neighborhood for fun.

We visited an orphanage one day and brought soccer balls along for the kids. It’s amazing how many different games can be played with a soccer ball…basketball, catch, keep-away, and of course, soccer. I loved playing each game, but I think my favorite game was the one I played with a little boy who really had no desire to play ball. He couldn’t have been more than four years old and all he wanted me to do was chase him around the orphanage yard. He giggled just like my son used to giggle at that age. He was wearing an orange shirt.

I picked the bright colored shirt off the Wal-Mart rack. It had superheroes all over the front. It was just right for my shoebox.

You know, my 21 year boycott from wearing the color orange will end this year. There are much more important things to think about than whether a certain color “washes” me out. I don’t really care what they say. I am just thankful to have a shirt to wear.

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This article has been read 389 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Virgil Youngblood 11/26/09
Having gone to the DR on a mission trip, I wholeheartly agree with your perspective. Thanks for these relevant comments.
Anita van der Elst11/26/09
I'm sure that little boy will love his orange shirt! Thank you for taking us with you into your DR experience.
Lollie Hofer11/27/09
Good story, great message. I have a sudden urge to wear orange even though it's not my color either.
Kate Oliver Webb 11/29/09
I really appreciated your story; your writing took me on that trip to DR with you, and I saw those children playing. Thank you.
Jim McWhinnie 12/02/09
Alas, I have reached the age when gray seems to be my color. But hey - I'm wearing an orange shirt as I write these words ... see, you've inspired me. Good job on some good storytelling.