When I joined the SCA, back in AS 20, we had to travel all the way from Fargo, ND to Grand Forks Air Force Base so I could meet a knight. The knight in question (Sir Atai Yoshina) put us up, fed us, trained us, and gave good advice. He noted that I hadn't a proper chin strap on my helmet, and scouted up a pair of rivets to mount the leather strap and buckle I had. In my ignorance of the generosity of SCA people in general, I asked him how much I owed him for his help. His answer molded the next twenty years of my life.
When I asked what I owed him, Sir Atai responded, "You don't owe me anything. Other people helped me to get to where I am, and you can only pay it back the way I just did, by passing it on."
I only saw Sir Atai a very few special times over the next twenty years, but I never forgot to "pass it on". I armored and trained at least a few fighters every year, and sometimes many. That gift of a rivet, over the years, multiplied into innumerable suits of armor, sheilds, swords, service at events, and travel to aid new groups. It bought a bundle of rattan 12 feet long and 3 feet around transported from the Phillipines to Misawa Air Force Base. It bought steel, rivets, tools, and teaching. It bought my service as an Inspecting Marshall at Gulf Wars, and later as Chief Inspecting Marshall at Pennsic War.
In August of 2005, I chanced to once again reacquaint myself with the original knight, Sir Atai, at Pennsic War, where he camped right across Student's Path from our camp. As we shared a drink in camp, I told him the tale of how much good for the SCA his gift of a rivet had bought. It was important to me that he realize how large an effect the smallest positive gesture can have.
The next day, in a surprise ceremony, (I had been asked to attend to supply guitar music!) Sir Atai took me as a squire, and using an Eastern tradition, gifted me with a squire's chain of silver. He modified the traditional chain, however, adding a copper rivet as a reminder to me to pass on not just the material gifts I have received, but the spiritual ones as well.
The Midrealm does not have a tradition of squires wearing silver chains, and in fact it is considered somewhat presumptuous, though courtesy forbids most from commenting. Yet I feel it would deny the most important point of this story if I failed to both wear it, and to tell this story to whomsoever may take an interest. That rivet is still giving today, in myself, and in all who have acted to continue in the same spirit. Don't forget to give the rivet. It matters.