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Donors provide a 'Better Christmas' for more than 25

December 27, 2006|by BOB MAGINNIS

Thanks to the generosity of three anonymous donors, more than 25 people on the region were able to make someone else's Christmas a little better this year.

This was the second year for the event, begun by a local businessman who has been successful and who wanted to share some of his blessings with others in the area.

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.

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.

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He came in this year with another $2,000 and another 20 copies of the Osteen book. Just as we did last year, we asked people to complete this sentence:

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

I wrote about that on Dec. 6. A day or two later, another man, whom I did not know, brought in another $1,000 and 10 copies of Osteen's book.

I was off during the week of Dec. 19, but came in to prepare a final list of recipients. There on my desk was a letter marked "private and confidential." Inside were two postal money orders, with instructions that one go to the "Better Christmas" fund and the other to the fund set up for Devin Fales, the Keedysville youth with a rare condition called Fanconi anemia.

In all, we were able to fulfill all but two requests, both of which came in past the deadline. Because the Shiloh United Methodist Church and not The Herald-Mail wrote the checks, it was not possible to write one for those whose letters didn't arrive by our deadline.

On Thursday, Dec. 21, I called all the recipients and told them that they could pick up their checks and books on Friday. I also told them that if they could not do so, I would mail the checks and hand-deliver the books within the next month.

About a dozen people opted to come in and all of them seemed sincere in their desire to help others.

I was also struck by the many different causes the letter-writers embraced.

One woman wanted to help Linn Hendershot and MIHI (Many Individuals Helping Individuals) put on a holiday gala for some patients at the Western Maryland Hospital Center.

Someone else was working with an educator at Hagerstown's Bester Elementary School to identify needy children, while yet another writer, who described herself as a widow on a fixed income, wanted $100 to give to the "Feed the Children" campaign.

Two letter-writers sought funds to help a family burned out of their home on Hagerstown's Garlinger Avenue, while a Smithsburg girl asked for cash to buy gifts with a child for leukemia, because, she said, his medical costs made it tough for his parents to do so.

A Hagerstown woman proposed purchasing sanitary napkins for women in African who have no access to such products. It's a sharp reminder that not everyone on the planet can go to the pharmacy for their medical needs.

A woman from Waynesboro, Pa., described a selfless couple from her church whose first thoughts are always for someone else's needs, while a Hagerstown girl wrote to say she'd like to buy some treats for the animals at the Humane Society of Washington County.

Thanks to our Good Samaritans. If you received funds, please write to the donors in care of me at the address elsewhere on this page. If you got a check, but not your copy of Osteen's book, I'll try to make arrangements to drop it off to you. Or better yet, please call me at 301-791-7622 and tell me when you'd like to pick it up.

I am humbled by the decision of three different people to trust me to give out more than $2,000 of their money. To all of those who have thanked me for doing this, I appreciate your good wishes, but all I'm really doing is enabling a few nice people to do good deeds without calling attention to themselves.

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

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