I used to hang out with this guy a lot during my first two years of high school. He wasn't the best looking guy around, and he didn't have a whole lot going for him, but he had a few good friends anyway. He was a funny guy. We used to play video games a lot those two years. It seems like every weekend I would be over at his house playing Super Smash Brothers, Halo, and any number of a huge lot of N64 and SNES games we both had. We got to know each other pretty well.
Christmas of my freshman year, I got Ikaruga for Gamecube. My friend really loved that game. We would play it for hours, trying to beat its impossibly hard bosses and levels. Even after we stopped playing it, he seemed to be lost in its world. His eyes would be glazed over, and he would say he wanted to play again. This was all harmless, he wasn't addicted to it or anything, he just really liked the game.
When junior year came around I could tell we were drifting apart. We talked less, we both got into different groups of friends, and we hung out a lot less. He sunk into a severe depression that year because of several cases of unrequited love, and I wasn't in the position to talk to him about it, but I still felt bad for him.
Things only seemed to get worse through senior year. His depression was worsening, there were suicide scares, and his family situation was deteriorating. His younger brother was involved in gangs, and his father was openly cheating on his wife. This downward spiral is still continuing today - his father's company is about to go bankrupt, and his younger brother is going to a juvenile correction center soon.
So this December I decided to do something that might help. I had always felt bad for him, but never had been in the right position to help. So I dug up my copy of Ikaruga (which I hadn't played in months) and put it in gift wrap. I attached a post-it note to the front of the box saying, "DON'T GIVE UP. Merry Christmas." Three days before Christmas, I drove over to his house at night and dropped the package in the mailbox. I drove away feeling like a much better person than I ever had before.
Here's to anonymous, random acts of generosity.