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Giving and love topic of new children’s book
December 27, 2017

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When one Sanibel resident went to grab a pencil at church one Sunday afternoon, she noticed they were all broken, keeping her from jotting notes during service.

"I came home and said, 'oh, I'm so disappointed,'" Sally Hanser said.

For a few days following, her thoughts kept jogging back to that Sunday afternoon, which resulted in taking matters into her own hands.

"Very often you have points in your life when you think 'what can I do?' So, I thought I can at least do that," she said. "So I went back at night and sharpened all the pencils at the church."

Following her act of kindness, Hanser went through a week of negative self talk, something that is rare.

"Why did I do that? That was so silly. Who's ever going to notice? Who's ever going to care? Who in their right mind at your age goes back at night with a pencil sharpener to sharpen every pencil," she said laughing.

A few days later while working in her garden a story "downloaded" into her brain.

"I flew inside and wrote until I was finished," Hanser said of her first published book, "A Christmas Mouse in a Christmas House." "It's not perfect, but the story is perfect. I believe it was a gift."

She believes when an individual is open, opportunities present themselves.

"We miss them because we are too busy to see them," Hanser said. "I try to be open to certain things when I see them. Open to a need of some kind. It doesn't have to be big. It can be a small thing that means everything to someone."

With the book completed, Hanser feels grateful.

"I feel almost like a surrogate mother. I had something given to me that I was just supposed to house for a while, it wasn't mine. Once it was birthed and out there, it wasn't mine anymore. I had the joy of knowing that the story, I was hoping, would touch the hearts of people," she said.

"A Christmas Mouse in a Christmas House" is all about giving and love and not about spending money. The book shares different ways a family can interact at Christmas time.

"Some families are having their grandchildren read it on Christmas Eve for the whole family. It will be current 20 years from now. It will never go out of style," Hanser said.

With Hurricane Irma in the not so distant past, Hanser said families have had so much taken away from them.

"What a wonderful thing to be able to read something and say 'oh Christmas isn't all about buying gifts.' Let's think about what we can give to each other and do for each other. It kind of brings about interaction and conversation between generations. It brings about creative ways of looking through different eyes and seeing things in a new way," she said. "That is really my hope for the book."

All of the proceeds from the book, $17.95, goes towards the Charitable Foundation of the Islands.

"The payback that I have from it is getting to decide where that money goes. It's not going to be huge, but a lot of times when you live in a small place, a little bit can go a long way. Somebody that has fallen into hard times because of the hurricane, or couldn't pay their rent one month . . .," Hanser said.

The book can be purchased at MacIntosh Books & Paper, from Hanser by emailing misschristmasmouse@gmail.com, or from Amazon.com.

Hanser used to have an art business on the island where she worked with a gal to create stage paintings by transforming environments for fundraisers. She said they would cover the walls with huge paintings.

Her past life also took her into Hope Hospice where she did grief counseling.

Something she loved as a little girl, playing in her doll house, has now been incorporated into a true passion, helping others create a beautiful environment inside their home.

"I've always had a passion for helping people in their homes. I love working with people with what they have because it makes me creative," Hanser said. "I start with what they love and sort of weed out what they are unsure of and get rid of things that they don't want."

Hanser moved to the island 20 years ago after living in St. Louis, where she met her husband Al, the founder and chairman of the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company.

"It is home for us. It is a great place," she said.

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Regular Size Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander