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  • When I was about 8/9 years old my two sisters and I used to play lots of rough games with the neighborhood boys; war, cops & robbers, army. After all we were the only girls in the neighborhood so we did our best to just belong.

    I remember a house on the corner of my street; a house that our little gang would visit often to taunt the little boys who lived inside. We didn't invite them to play games with us or to go on hour-long bike rides around the neighborhood. Instead we stood on the sidewalk at the foot of their driveway and threw rocks at their garage door, their cars, their windows. "The Wolfins" we called them because my parents told us that it was highly likely that the boys were being raised by wolves.

    The grass around the yard was always overgrown. There was always a broken bike or plastic toy or rusted pile of something strewn across their property. The paint on the house was chipping, none of the windows had curtains and the roof looked like parts of it might come crashing in at any moment.

    The boys were always filthy. Their hair wasn't combed or even cut evenly. They grunted instead of using words. When they would come outside as our large group of friends were playing, we would shout nasty names at them and grab sticks, arming ourselves against "their kind".

    As a kid I don't remember feeling bad about this. I don't remember going home and thinking about their parents. I don't remember considering that any of them had feelings or souls or, better yet, reasons for the way they lived.

    Today I brought five new pairs of sneakers and brand new clothes to a struggling family of 8 that lived just outside the town I grew up in. These were their wishes; granted by strangers who came to the website I created to help someone they knew they'd never actually meet for no other reason than because its kind.

    As we pulled up to their house I was immediately taken back to that house on the corner of my street. Shaky roof, broken toys on the lawn and uncovered windows. I could hear one of the children crying inside. She is autistic. In fact, they all are. They are not being raised by wolves. There are parents inside; with feelings and souls and...reasons.
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