A man was walking down a deserted beach at sunset, and as he walked along, he began to see a young boy in the distance. As the man grew nearer, he noticed the boy kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.
When he came closer, he noticed that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach, and one at a time, the boy was throwing the starfish back into the water.
Puzzled, the man asked, "I'm curious. What are you doing?" The boy replied, "I'm throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, it's low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I don't throw them back into the sea, they will die from lack of oxygen."
"I understand," commented the man, "but there must be thousands of starfish on the beach. You can't possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. and don't you realize this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast? Can't you see that you can't possibly make a difference?"
The boy smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish; and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied,
"Made a difference to that one!"
Adapted from Chicken Soup for the Soul
Here are details of: Chicken Soup for the Traveler's Soul