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A Grandmother's Way to Change the World

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If you think you’re too old, or too young, or too… anything... to change the world, 88-year-old Jill Charrison is living proof that you’re not.

The British grandmother of four is making a big impact one jar, one cake, one small offering at a time.

For more than two years, Jill has loaded a wheelbarrow at the end of her driveway with all kinds of homemade or homegrown goodies and a note instructing passers-by to help themselves.

Since early in the pandemic, the widow has repeatedly stocked it with hundreds of tomato plants she grew, over 2,000 jars of jam and marmalade she made, along with countless baked goods from her kitchen.

Her son, Guy, told me she gives away 90% of what she makes. Quiche, cakes, cookies (or as the British would say, “biscuits”), and more. It’s not unusual for her to be up with the sun and well into her one-person production line by 7:15 am - at 88 years old.

Jill’s pandemic pantry has brought together residents in her Virginia Water’s (suburban London) neighborhood who look forward to the treats and have responded with notes thanking her and gifts like eggs from their chickens -which Jill baked in cakes and gave right back to them.

Even a Member of Parliament who lives nearby left a note thanking her for her offerings and the good they create. And, in the way that goodnesss boomerangs, Jill’s treats brought her something special, too - an invitation to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Party.

At a time when the world has felt isolated and divided, an elderly widow in less than perfect health has brought her neighbors together again. Evidence that kindness begets kindness, happy dominoes that fall if only someone will stand up and push the first one.

It makes me consider which figurative offerings I could put out for passers-by to take as they need? Which ones could you? Our many small gifts are enough to create a revolution of good and love.

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