A search for a thank you gift began shortly after Mia shipped the triumphant elephant journey mobile that marked her first sale. She didn't have anything specific in mind, keeping herself open to ideas. A possibility revealed itself when she saw a plate of luscious cookies displayed behind the front window of L.A. Burdick Chocolates in Chicago.
It was her first time in the fine chocolatier shop and café, a 1,000-square-foot space with a warm ambiance and soft lighting inviting her to stay and have one of the Burdick cookies that were as decadent up close as they were from the outside looking in. The large, dark chocolate chunks drew her eyes closer to them, and she wondered if they would be a good thank you gift. She asked the gentleman behind the counter if the cookies were made local.
"They're made right here in the café," he said. "We make them fresh throughout the day. They're a customer favorite."
Mia envisioned sending a box of cookies to the buyer and quickly saw it wasn't the right gift to express her gratitude and celebrate her first sale. She looked around for other ideas, considering the handcrafted chocolate mice complete with ribbon tails and penguins that also came with signature gift boxes.
Then she turned to the south side wall and saw a baby elephant looking at her from the center of a gold framed photograph on a marble shelf. The elephant's gaze met Mia's curiosity leaning in to read and learn about the elephant's appearance. She read the heading introducing the purpose: Chocolate Elephants for the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
L.A. Burdick had specially created chocolate elephants—each hand-piped, hand-dipped, and hand-decorated—in support of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, a non-profit organization in Kenya renowned around the world for its successful rescue and rehabilitation program for orphaned elephants. 100% of the net proceeds would be donated to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust USA. It resonated with Mia, who saw a meaningful gift that gave in more than one way. It also had a natural connection with her triumphant elephant journey. She scanned the shelf for the chocolate elephants, but she didn't see any available.
She went to the gentleman and asked for assistance. He said, "I'm sorry, I sold the last box right before you came in."
"You did?" she said. "Will there be more any time soon?"
"Not until next year, maybe around April," he said.
But that was too late for a gratitude gift. Mia scanned the other shelves in the shop. Maybe they missed a box somewhere. The gentleman confirmed there was none left. She accepted and purchased one of the cookies. On her way out she took a photo of the baby elephant, bringing him home to help her discover another gift.
From experience Mia knew that when an option became unavailable, a better one was waiting to reveal itself at the right moment. Sometimes it took years. Other times it was immediate. Essential to the discovery was to maintain trust, patience, and steady efforts toward that end.
She began with an Internet search, going directly to the place that cared for the elephants. Within a few seconds Mia found the home page of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust that opened with a photograph of two men feeding milk to a baby elephant. It was the first in a thoughtful series of photographs and mission words focused on the rescue, recovery, reintegration, treatment, and protection of Africa's wildlife. Each image carried her forward to learn more.
She scrolled the page, feeling the uplift of an unfolding journey filled with purpose. It brought her to the core of the organization's Orphans' Project: rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned infant elephants. Wanting to see how, Mia selected the option that took her there. Joy spread across her face smiling at the gift she didn't know was possible to give:
The adoption of a rescued orphan elephant, rhino, or giraffe—offering life and hope to an animal in need.
Mia reached out to the organization and sent the photo she had of the baby elephant she saw at the chocolate shop, wishing to adopt him. She learned that the elephant was a wild born baby from one of their ex orphans and was not adoptable. The wild born baby, a tiny miracle, was a testament of success of the Orphans' Project bringing into sharp focus the gift of life and hope.
Mia returned to the adoption page. There were many elephants to choose from, each with their own poignant story. She read about Sattao, the little bull named after the area in Tsavo East in Kenya where he was found, a favorite place for large herds of elephants to come for water. He had been wandering alone and abandoned (it was possible his mother was a victim in a poaching causality). Sattao was incredibly skeletal, wounded, and dehydrated when found and rescued on March 18, 2017. His condition was severe, but one thing was evident about him:
From the outset he was a fighter and although quiet in nature, he had a steely resolve to live.
And through the will to live, Sattao revealed himself as the gift and tiny miracle. The search was completed and the gift of adoption was made.
Mia returned to L.A. Burdick Chocolates and ordered a hot chocolate brew to go with one of the decadent cookies. She sat at a center table and savored the afternoon sunlight, its rays of life shining through the windows. In the quiet space of gratitude, she thought about Sattao and the coming rain that will bring him new terrain, adventure, and a season of play and joy. She sipped her brew, feeling the imprint of Sattao's will to live.
there is richness and beauty with each meaningful gift
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