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'A Better Christmas' draws more monetary donations

December 07, 2005|by BOB MAGINNIS

If you missed my first column on this subject, late last month a small-business person came to me with $2,000 in cash, 20 books and an unusual request.

The man, who requested anonymity, asked me to hold a letter-writing contest in which readers would answer this question:

"If I had $100, I could make someone's Christmas better by ..."

Each winner would get a $100 check and a copy of "Daily Readings from 'Your Best Life Now'" by Joel Osteen, pastor of a large church in Houston, Texas.

We were not looking for parents who wanted to give their child the latest toy or a husband who wanted to give his wife a luxurious garment, but for people who wanted to help those in need.

The anonymous donor also hoped that others would join the effort.

I was skeptical, but the Friday after the first column ran, I was called to the entryway of The Herald-Mail, where a man I had never met before handed me a $100 bill.

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This week, a woman called and said her husband would be bringing in a donation.

When he arrived, he gave me a bank envelope with 10 $100 bills and another 10 copies of Osteen's book.

And yesterday when I opened the mail, there was a check for $100.

I am awed by the fact that people I've never met before are trusting me and The Herald-Mail's employees to choose who gets the opportunity to do good for someone else. We'll do our best.

Yesterday was the deadline for letters and as this is being written, the afternoon mail has not arrived. It would be nice if we had just 32 letter-writers to distribute this $3,200 to, but it probably will be more difficult than that.

The nice thing is that so far I haven't read any letter that appears to be an attempt at a scam. The problems described sound real and are sometimes heart-rending.

I have decided not to print the names of those who will be the objects of letter-writers' charity, because people who are going through hard times have their pride.

I hope to have the list of winners ready by Wednesday, Dec. 14. Thanks to all our donors and participants.

Bob Maginnis is editorial page editor of The Herald-Mail newspapers.

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