At 212 Media Studios, we believe that giving is more than just something you should do out of habit every December. Giving is really important—and can literally change both the recipient and the giver. That’s why this holiday season, 212 Media Studios is spending 12 days focusing exclusively on what it means to give.

Most often, we think of presents—things that we receive and accumulate. However, sometimes a gift takes on a very different form.

Most of us here at 212 Media Studios have been given some pretty awesome gifts throughout our lives. Recently, I was able to interview our Senior Content Specialist, Leilani Squires, and hear her story of receiving a gift that unexpectedly made a huge impact on her career.

B: Can you share the story behind the gift you received?

L: During college, I had applied for a selective screenwriting school in Hollywood and somehow got in! A friend—who I didn’t know was on the application selection board—saw my application and anonymously paid for my schooling. I had been given a work-study, so my finances would have worked out. However, because of this gift, I was able to apply for the TV scriptwriting course as well, in addition to the feature screenwriting classes. I got to do both, which was my heart’s desire from the time I applied! The program was amazing. Very intense! But it opened many doors for networking, mentors, and opportunities.

B: What were your reactions when you were given this gift?

L: I found out about the anonymous gift through an email saying my account had been paid in full. I thought it was a mistake. I knew my last payment wasn’t that much! When I arrived for the program, a lovely couple had also graciously invited me to stay with them for the whole month, and even lent me their car.

As I was getting settled, I told them about this great gift. After some prying, they admitted they had paid the bill. I still tear up about it. I had (and still do) look up to this couple as industry greats, and yet they had kept such generosity and care for others as a core of what they did/do together. They look out for others, and generously invest in people in so many ways. To have them believe so much in me—and my abilities as a writer—to this extent was sobering and incredibly inspiring. It made me want to do better. I wanted to take it all in, and really thrive in my career.

B: How has this gift impacted your life?

L: I had experienced some confirmation already that writing was what I wanted to do as a career. But attending this program was the launching pad for where I am today. The progression of events that has brought me here can be traced back to this decision.

It’s the reason why I pursued my internship at Focus on the Family with Adventures in Odyssey, became passionate about training younger writers, was given full-time jobs and totally cool screenwriting and writing freelance gigs, and received my master’s degree with a concentration in screenwriting—which led to teaching at Taylor University.

And it brought me here to 212 Media Studios. The techniques I learned in Hollywood greatly help in my job as I strive to tell the stories of clients to the best of my ability—understanding vision, backstory, voice, and what’s next. Each client has a story, and I get to help write the “movie!” I’m also able to assist in writing scripts for our video department, which is another way we get to share clients’ stories.

B: Did this action inspire you to want to “pay it forward” for someone else?

L: Absolutely. My husband, Eric, and I intentionally look for opportunities to bless others through finances, time, meals, whatever is needed. I also don’t always charge for my writing because I believe in giving back not only through finances and tangible things, but also in talent and time.

B: What was the most important thing you have learned from receiving this gift?

L: Gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Time can also be a gift. While staying with this couple, I got to see a day-to-day example of a great marriage, how they loved those in their community, invested in each other and in others, and all while having great dedication to the quality of their work. I am forever grateful to them for investing in my life in ways that inspired and changed my very core.

B: Would you say this gift changed your life?

L: A resounding “yes!” It was a significant step in my career, launched new paths, and enabled grand opportunities.

Thanks, Leilani, for sharing this amazing story and reminding us how impacting a gift can be.

How can you show generosity to someone?

To read the previous blogs in this series, scroll down. And be sure to come back tomorrow for the fifth blog in our 12 Days of Giving campaign.