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Can you make 'A Better Christmas" for someone? Write us

December 06, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

There's a fellow I'd like every one of The Herald-Mail's readers to meet.

He's a local businessman who is married with a family. He's not rich, but he's been able to make a comfortable living by providing his brand of personal service.

But, unlike a lot of us who gripe about the little things that go wrong in our lives, this guy knows he's got it good.

And, he'd like to share some of the joy and inspiration he's found. Anonymously. Again.

Last December this gentleman, who knew me only from reading things I'd written, came to The Herald-Mail offices with $2,000 in cash and 20 copies of "Daily Readings from 'Your Best Life Now'" by Joel Osteen, pastor of a large church in Houston, Texas.

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He told me that the book had inspired him and that he wanted to share it with others. He also wanted people to think about the less fortunate at this time of the year.

They're the people who won't be getting a Christmas bonus because they work at a minimum-wage job. Or the people who are old and trying to stay in their homes but aren't sure their small pension or Social Security check will allow them to do that.

Perhaps they have been crippled by arthritis or another illness or have had to deal with the psychic pain of a divorce or the death of a loved one.

Oh, they're out there. And in many cases they're too proud or afraid to say they're hurting or that they need some assistance.

So here's how you can help: Send me a letter that completes this sentence:

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

Twenty readers will get $100 to do their good deed and a copy of Osteen's book, to reflect on how good their lives actually could be.

How will the decision be made? For the second year in a row, this businessperson has left that up to me.

He's done that even though I've explained that I can't investigate every story someone sends me. After 30-plus years in the newspaper business, I do have an ear for baloney, however. If your story sounds bogus to me, someone else will get the cash.

Last year we were fortunate because this one man's gift inspired others to provide additional dollars. There is no guarantee that will happen again, so please respond quickly.

We will publish all letters, but will edit them to disguise the identity of the person you wish to help, so as not to embarrass them.

Send your letters to "A Better Christmas," c/o Editorial Editor, The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741. E-mails are also permitted, but please put "A Better Christmas" in the subject line. As always, we need your name, address and daytime phone number.

And, we need those letters by 5 p.m on Friday, Dec. 15, so that we can get the checks out in time for the Christmas holiday.

I ate lunch recently with this Good Samaritan and he told me that on Christmas Day, he read all of the letters to his wife and she cried to think that they had been able to do so much good.

Many of those who received cash last year sent thank-you notes, which I forwarded to this man. That was a nice touch. If you get cash this year, it would be good to acknowledge it.

Finally, a story that may seem unrelated to this unselfish gift.

Back in 1989, I went to visit my Aunt Dee Dee in Alabama and took my oldest soon, who was then about 9 years old.

On Sunday she took us to her church and when it came time for the sermon, the pastor preached on the recent offerings, which he said were not very generous.

He described counting the money afterward and finding bills that were all crumpled up, as if the owner had been holding on so tightly because he or she really didn't want to give them up.

Giving really is a matter of faith. There is always a way to rationalize not doing it. The money might be wasted or the charity involved might be a scam just to make money for the people who are operating it.

This man knows he could be scammed, but is expressing his faith that The Herald-Mail readers will not steal this money, but use it for its intended purpose.

My special thanks to the Shiloh United Methodist Church, which has once again agreed to issue the checks. That church has also been involved in fundraising for Alivia Koontz, the Hagerstown-area child born with a rare heart defect.Thanks again for your help.

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

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